X-Factor: Lamar Odom
By Rob Peterson
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty
Can Odom be even better than last year?

As much as Kobe Bryant is a brilliant, brilliant player, he needs someone he can count on for 48 minutes. Someone who has his back. Someone who can take the pressure off on offense or put the pressure on in a defensive set.

That man is Lamar Odom.

Some would argue and say Smush Parker really needs to take his game to a playoff lever (and he does) and that maybe Luke Walton is the key to the Lakers getting past potent Phoenix into the next round (and he could be), but Odom, who's been smashing in this two career postseason appearances, needs to be even better than he has been for the Lakers to have a chance to advance to the Conference Semifinals.

In last year's seven-game Western Conference First Round classic against the Sun, Odom sparkled, scoring 19.1 points per game, grabbing 11.0 boards per and dishing 4.9 assists per contest.

Yet, despite those stellar numbers, the Lakers still succumbed to the Suns in seven after taking a 3-1 series lead. That loss, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, still haunts Odom, who's licking his chops for another chance at Phoenix:

"They're the team that we want to play. They're the team that we lost to. We had them 3-1 last time. That's a good start. We didn't finish it. Hopefully we can play well enough to take it to a seventh game, and it would be anybody's series."

Odom, who's had double-doubles in four of his last 10 games gets a chance to put his wish to work for Game 1 on Sunday, April 22 at 3 p.m. ET, ABC.

X-Factors: ACB LBJ | Battier | VC | Harris | Horry | Nellie | Nene | Odom

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