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Lakers try to reconnect with Lamar Odom

Players say the forward has been hard to reach since he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks after the Lakers' failed attempt to land Chris Paul. The Lakers host the Mavericks on Monday.

January 15, 2012|By Ben Bolch
  • Former Lakers forward Lamar Odom attacks the basket against Heat center Joel Anthony duirng the Mavericks' season opener in Dallas on Christmas Day.
Former Lakers forward Lamar Odom attacks the basket against Heat center… (Ron Jenkins / McClatchy-Tribune )

Lamar Odom will be back at Staples Center on Monday, giving his former teammates a chance to catch up.

Not that a few haven't attempted to communicate with the forward in the month since the Lakers traded him to the Dallas Mavericks.

"I tried to call him," forward Pau Gasol said, "but he's hard to reach."

The Lakers could always leave a message. Or not.

"His voicemail is always full," forward Luke Walton said. "He was like that when he played here."

Odom's game certainly looks different. He is averaging 6.8 points and 5.0 rebounds, a considerable dip from the production that made him the NBA's sixth man of the year last season.

The veteran has struggled since asking to be traded after the Lakers' failed attempt to acquire Chris Paul while sending Odom to New Orleans. Walton said he wasn't surprised Odom responded the way he did.

"He's a very caring person when it comes to the people he's close with and he was close with a lot of people here," Walton said. "He had been here for seven years, so I wasn't shocked that he took it hard."

Walton said the Lakers missed Odom's easygoing demeanor in the locker room as much as his play on the court. The Lakers' bench has been among the least productive in the league since Odom's departure, averaging 20.7 points per game.

Odom nearly matched that figure himself last season, when he averaged 14.4 points and 8.6 rebounds.

"He's an unselfish, versatile guy that sacrifices himself for the benefit of the team always and that's the kind of player you like to have on your side," Gasol said.

While the Lakers will embrace Odom, they will be less welcoming toward his new team. The last time they met, the Mavericks swept the Lakers out of the Western Conference semifinals on the way to winning the NBA title.

Tyson Chandler, Jose Barea and DeShawn Stevenson are gone, but there will be more than enough reminders of the pain Dallas inflicted in May.

"It's one of those regular-season games that's going to be a little more exciting and you want a little more than the other ones," Walton said.

Upon further review

Coach Mike Brown said he would ask the NBA to review Blake Griffin's two-handed shove of Lakers guard Darius Morris late in the first quarter Saturday, an act that did not earn the Clippers forward a foul.

Morris was going in for a dunk during a dead ball after being fouled by Paul when Griffin extended both hands and pushed the rookie in midair. A visibly perturbed Brown had to be restrained by assistants Chuck Person and John Kuester from coming onto the court, earning the coach a technical foul.

"I acted the way I did because I did think it was wrong and I got a technical and hopefully it brought some light to what happened, but you hate giving up a point," said Brown, who apologized to his players at halftime.

Brown said officials told him it was acceptable to push a player in the air "as long as he doesn't get hurt or doesn't look like he's going to get hurt."

According to the NBA rule book, a player who makes illegal contact during a dead ball may be assessed a technical foul if the contact is deemed to be unsportsmanlike in nature or a flagrant foul if the contact is considered unnecessary and/or excessive.

"It's a judgment call by the official," Brown said. "I just want to know, after reviewing the play, was the judgment call correct?"

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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