DALLAS _ Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was engaged in an interview with the
media today when forward Lamar Odom walked by.
“Get ‘em off me, coach,’’ Odom said. “Get ‘em off me, coach.”
When Carlisle was asked why should the media get off Odom, Carlisle asked: “Why should you be off of Lamar? I don’t know, are you on him?’’
Actually, Odom has been criticized for not playing up to the fans’ expectations. That reached a crescendo during Wednesday’s 105-90 home loss to Minnesota when Odom was
just 2-of-14 from the field and tallied only five points.
“Hey, listen, we believe in Lamar,’’ Carlisle said. “This has been a struggle so far, but this guy can play.
“We’re going to keep supporting him and keep believing in him and he’s going to get better and better. That’s been his pattern every year of his career.’’
Odom is averaging career-lows of 7.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 21 minutes per game. He also is shooting a career-low 32.9 percent from the field while shooting a puny 24.1 percent from three-point range.
Despite all that, Carlisle repeated: “He’ll be fine. He’ll be fine. You know, in an NBA season after 28 years, I’m not sure how often I’m ever surprised.
“But Lamar’s going to be fine. He’s got to stay with it, he’s got to be aggressive, and we’re with him.’’
Guard Vince Carter noted that Odom is asked to do a lot of things that aren’t visible to the average fan’s eyes, and that could be affected is overall effectiveness.
“We are asking him to play a lot of positions and do a lot of things,’’ Carter said. “It’s one thing playing the wing position and playing (power forward).
“When you are playing the point guard you have to know what is going on (and) where everybody is supposed to be. That is an unbelievable adjustment. I don’t think there are a lot of guys who can handle it.’’
Obviously, Odom hasn’t handled it well. Hence, the slow start.
“We know who is and what he can do,’’ Carter said. “We say just relax and be Lamar Odom.
“He has done a great job and I admire him. He puts the pressure on himself of performing at a high level.''
Odom won two NBA championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and ’10, so he’s accustomed to playing at a high level.
“Of course he has played at a high level,’’ Carter said. “He pushes himself in knowing what’s going on and wanting to play well.
“Sometimes it’s a negative to us all because we try so hard. I fell into the same thing at the beginning -- you just want to do well on a team like this. You play on a team like this the first thing you think is you want to go out there and contribute instead of being who we are.’'
At the time Dallas acquired Odom from the Lakers on Dec. 10 for basically an $8.9 million trade
exception, it looked like the Mavs had stolen a valuable piece away from one of their top nemesis in the Western Conference. But expect for flashes here and there, Odom has yet to live up to his advance billing.
How long can – and will – the Mavs wait for Odom to give them some consistent minutes night-in and night-out?
“We’re working at it every day, and that’s what we’ll continue to do,’’ Carlisle said. “We’re going to stay the course with the things that we feel are the best things for our entire team and go from there.
“It’s kind of the old phrase that when things are going good, you’re never that far from them being bad, and when things are a struggle, you’re never that far from being on track. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a team or an individual player. In this league, it can be that much of a fine
When Carlisle was asked how much of a slump is mental focus, he answered with: “I’ll gladly take a question on another topic, because I’m done with that one.’’
-- Dwain Price
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