DESPITE ANKLE INJURY, ODOM MAKING DIFFERENCE ON GLASS

DENVER – There were fewer than two hours before the Clippers tipped off against the Utah Jazz on Dec. 30 and Lamar Odom walked with a noticeable stagger in the team’s locker room.

He was hobbled by a twisted right ankle, sustained two days earlier in the Clippers’ come-from-behind road victory over the Jazz. After that game Odom sounded as though it was nothing. “If I can get through life, then I can get through this,” he said.

And despite playing through pain in both ankles, Odom has made it appear like nothing.

He grabbed eight rebounds, including five defensive boards against one of the league’s best offensive rebounding teams, and blocked three shots in the Clippers’ 17th consecutive win. It was his fifth game in the last eight with at least six rebounds (three in double digits). He’s essentially made a difference on the glass in every game that he’s been healthy over that stretch.

“Lamar gutted it out the other day,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He was in pretty good pain, but he’s a pro. He’s been through it.”

Del Negro said Odom is somewhat limited due to the injury. “Both ankles are bothering him, but the right one that he sprained, a little ligament in his foot is giving him some issues. It didn’t get worse the other day which is good, but he was in some pain.”

Against Denver on Tuesday, Odom’s presence on the boards will be needed again. The Nuggets are first in the league with 46.2 per game and boast not only one of the better rebound bigs in Kenneth Faried, but an oversized shooting guard, Andre Iguodala, averaging 5.6 a night.

“Rebounding and transition defense is big tonight, as always, but especially against Denver,” Del Negro said. “They do a good job on the offensive glass. Faried gives a lot of energy.”

As for Odom’s overall game, Del Negro sees things constantly improving.

“He’s definitely moving in the right direction and he’s putting in the work,” Del Negro said after Odom had four points, five assists and a season-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “He’s out there rebounding like he did [against Boston], making plays. His shot is continually getting better. He’s getting his legs under him a little bit. And once he starts hitting some shots from outside on a consistent basis it will open up things for everybody.”

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