Reporting from Houston — Has Phil Jackson lost control of the Lakers?
The Lakers coach opined after Friday's lopsided loss in Oklahoma City that the way players responded to his coaching would factor into his decision whether to return next season.
Lamar Odom laughed at the notion that Jackson had somehow lost the players.
"I don't think that's the case," Odom said.
In fact, Odom partly blamed himself for the Lakers' recent lapses.
"When you have a coach that's been around like that, it's up to Derek [Fisher] and Kobe [Bryant] and myself to start to bridge the communication to the newer and younger guys," Odom said.
Odom declined to elaborate on the identity of the "younger guys," but Sasha Vujacic had heated words with assistant coach Brian Shaw during Friday's game because he was angry that coaches were yelling out instructions to him.
In Saturday's game against the Houston Rockets, Jackson had no problem communicating with Jordan Farmar after the 23-year-old guard got caught in the air and forced a bad pass to DJ Mbenga that was deflected and almost stolen.
Jackson called an immediate timeout and chastised Farmar in the huddle.
Jackson, 64, is being paid $12 million in the final season of his contract.
"We want him to be here," Odom said. "It seems like he's a little more comfortable [physically], gets around a little better than he did a year ago. When you're working with somebody, you want them to be happy."
Jackson wasn't happy after the Lakers' 91-75 loss to Oklahoma City, telling The Times, "If [players] don't respond, you say, ‘no, this isn't the time for me to continue coaching.' If they do respond and we have the talent and we do the right thing and still can't win, that's a different story."
How'd that happen?
It was strange when a dispatch from Odom's Twitter feed popped up during the Lakers' game against Oklahoma City.
The post offered a link to a new bracelet Odom was selling but it was deleted within hours. Players are banned by the NBA from using Twitter during games.
"My bad about the twit malfunction during the game 2day," Odom wrote on his Twitter feed after the game. "My website is linked to my twitter and automatically updates [with] new posts."
In an interview, Odom reiterated that it was a case of bad timing. He is not expected to be reprimanded by the league.
Rise and shine
Injured Lakers forward Luke Walton hopes to return to action within a week but has received a promotion in his temporary job as a coaches' aide.
Sunday in New Orleans, he will sit in with Lakers' coaches at their daily breakfast meeting.
"I'm not a morning person," Walton said, "but I'll be excited to be there."
Sidelined most of the season because of a pinched nerve in his lower back, Walton has been logging every Lakers possession in a notebook, be it a turnover or a 12-footer from the left side.