ODOM SHOWING FLASHES FOR CLIPPERS
PLAYA VISTA – Practice was long over Tuesday before Lamar Odom left the court.
A v-shaped sweat stain made his usually white practice jersey appear a dark gray as he and point guard Chris Paul exchanged 3-point shot after 3-point shot.
The workout was something that has been consistent for Odom over the last five weeks. “He’s in here early working out. He’s in here late working out,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “The main thing I’m pleased with is that he’s here every day. He knows he has a ways to go, but you can tell when he’s out there he makes a difference for us.”
Odom has already shown flickers of the player who once lit up the league as a versatile forward and two-time NBA champion. In Monday night’s road win over the Utah Jazz, he was trusted to make plays in the fourth quarter, earning the Clippers two extra possessions with offensive rebounds, knifing to the rim for a right-handed layup and consistently finding himself in the right place at the right time on the defensive end.
“You can see his timing coming back a little bit,” Del Negro said. You can see his lift coming back a little bit. He took a couple of big charges for us last night, some offensive rebounds, a couple of layups spacing the court for us; all of the things I know he’s capable of doing.”
In the last two games, Odom has combined for 13 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in a shade under 40 minutes. Of course, at one time the 2010-11 NBA Sixth Man of the Year winner used to put up those kind of numbers in a half, but Odom has maintained that he “slowly and surely” is getting back to it.
His teammates have noticed as well.
“I’ve talked to him about it and he’s said it’s a slow process,” Blake Griffin said. “But it is happening, you can see it. You can kind of just see it in his step and his bounce and the way he’s playing. We kind of figured in the beginning that it would be around Christmas time before you’d really see real flashes. Just because, he’d be the first to admit it, he had to get back in shape and he’s done a great job with that.”
DeAndre Jordan added: “Lamar is coming along. He’s getting a feel for it. He’s starting to be more aggressive offensively, which we all want him to be and not just look to pass. Because he can score, so once he gets everything right and gets more confident out there he’s going to be a big part of our second unit.”
He is also playing a big part in the team’s practice and preparation. Del Negro said Odom often speaks up in film sessions and on Tuesday when assistant coach Marc Iavaroni was going over a piece of the Clippers’ help defense on opposing big men, Odom interjected.
“We went through some things defensively today [at practice],” Del Negro said. “He spoke up and talked to the young bigs (Griffin and Jordan) a little bit and those things are invaluable.”
And as Odom continues to work his way back into form he may become invaluable on the court as well. “We have a lot of faith in him,” Del Negro said. “And I think he’s going to pay dividends down the road.”