Can bigger role bring life to Lamar Odom?

DALLAS – An ideal side benefit to Dirk Nowitzki’s four-game layoff would be life developing again in Lamar Odom’s game.

Nowitzki’s absence means more minutes for Odom. And he provided a season-high 16 points in Saturday night’s win over the Hornets, Odom’s first start of the season.

But it’s not as if Odom playing well while filling in for Nowitzki would necessarily mean he’ll fit well with the Mavs once their MVP returns. The majority of Odom’s minutes will come at small forward under normal circumstances, not his more natural position of power forward that is typically manned for 30-plus minutes per night by Nowitzki.

“I need more time at the 3 if I’m going to play the 3,” Odom said after Monday’s shootaround. “More time at the 4 wouldn’t help me. But I’m just going to play to play. Wherever I am on the court, I’ll try to make plays to the best of my ability.”

At this point, anything positive from Odom is a plus, regardless of the position.

The Mavs probably need Odom to be an impact player to have a chance to contend this season. They especially need Odom to be productive while Nowitzki goes through his personal training camp.

A Mavs optimist can hope that the increased role over the next few games will cause something to click for Odom.

“If I can get better while we win games, that’s what it’s all about,” Odom said. “It’s about going out here and competing and playing hard. The rest will take care of itself.”