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Lakers' Lamar Odom powers bench strength

Pumping up his game on offense, he and Shannon Brown play key roles in finishing off the Jazz.

May 10, 2010|By Broderick Turner

Reporting from Salt Lake City -- As soon as Lamar Odom checked into Game 4 Monday night, he quickly went on the attack, drawing a foul that awarded him two free throws.

In this best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series against the Utah Jazz, Odom's plan has been to be aggressive on offense, to be the leader of the Lakers' bench.

The rest of the Lakers' bench seemed to follow Odom's lead, the group coming alive in pushing the Lakers past the Jazz, 111-96, at EnergySolutions Arena.

Odom had 10 points and five rebounds, helping the Lakers sweep the Jazz, 4-0, and move on to the conference finals to face the Phoenix Suns. Game 1 will be Monday night at Staples Center.

Odom made two of four shots, his three-pointer with 1 minute 40 seconds left in the third quarter helping the Lakers regain momentum, pushing their lead to 77-65.

"Lately, I've been looking to get my shot, looking to get my offense going," said Odom, who was five for six from the free-throw line. "But it's about just about doing the right thing and then everything else will fall into place as far as me finding my shot."

The Lakers' bench scored 25 points, led by Shannon Brown's 12 points, including back-to-back three-pointers in the fourth.

"Everybody knows what we have to do," Odom said. "We've just got to be productive as a bench."

Odom has a sprained right knee, on which he's wearing a black sleeve for support, and a sore left shoulder that can cause him pain at a moment's notice.

Yet, Odom is not willing to say much about his injuries.

"I'm good. I'm chillin," Odom said. "Everything is good in my world."

For Brown, his sprained right thumb still is very painful. Because he was having such a difficult time handling the basketball and was turning the ball over too frequently without much defensive resistance, Brown stopped having the thumb taped up in Game 6 of the first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"I feel a lot more freedom with it off," Brown said. "I didn't have control of the ball. I wasn't catching the ball. It was kind of a pain in the [rear]. I'd rather deal with the pain than have it restricted."

After the season, Brown said he'll probably have surgery on the thumb.

He'll also probably opt out of his contract that pays him $2.1 million next season in the last year of his two-year deal and look to sign a long-term contract that could pay him upwards to the mid-level exception of $5.8 million per season.

His focus now is doing his part of the bench to help the Lakers defend their NBA championship. Brown made five of 10 shots Monday against the Jazz.

"A couple of games I wasn't shooting the ball well because of the tape on the thumb," Brown said. "I was losing the ball. Now it's about trying to strengthening it."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

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