Reporting from Phoenix — As he slowly dressed after the game, Lamar Odom sighed before he announced rather quietly, "I feel better."
The stat line Odom had was reason enough for him to feel that way.
He filled up the box score for the Lakers during their 114-106 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night at US Airways Center.
Odom gave the Lakers some offense, scoring 18 points, missing only four of his 12 shots, making his only three-point attempt.
Odom gave the Lakers activity on the backboards, collecting a game-high 17 rebounds, three offensive.
Odom shared the basketball, handing out five assists, second-best on the team.
"I'm ready to play," Odom said. "I'm just ready to play my role."
It's been that way for Odom since the exhibition season.
He came into training camp in good shape because he played for Team USA in the FIBA World Championship.
It looks as if it has carried over to the regular season.
"He played really a nice game," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "But there were a couple of strategic things we were trying to do and he forgot as he came off the bench. He played a really nice game."
Odom seemed to play in surges.
He had five points in the span of less than a minute in the second quarter, scoring on a reverse layup and a three-pointer.
He had six points in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 19-foot jumper, a layup and put-back after gathering an offensive rebound.
"Again, no matter who is out there, we do what we have to do," Odom said. "We have to make plays. We really don't have to force it on this team. I just need to play, find my speed, the tempo I want to play at. When I fit in, I usually play well once I find my rhythm."
Odom is the starting power forward because center Andrew Bynum is out recovering from right knee surgery
Odom is playing alongside Pau Gasol, who has moved over from power forward to the starting center spot.
Odom and Gasol gave the Suns more than they could handle.
"We just play," Odom said. "Usually down low, we have an advantage against teams."