DALLAS -- After another low-percentage shooting night from Lamar Odom, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said it's time to stop expecting the sensational from the 6-10 forward and to start understanding the nuance with which he plays.
Carlisle said Odom's performances over the last 15 games have been more consistent and are trending upward, and he believes Odom will continue to improve now that he is in more ideal playing shape, as well as coming to grips with a role that requires fewer minutes than he is accustomed, fewer minutes at power forward than he would prefer and typically a seat on the bench at closing time.
"I would love for Lamar to be the kind of high-impact player that he is supposedly advertised as being. But the truth is, he has been a consistent player," Carlisle said after Odom went 2-of-8 for four points in the Mavs' runaway, 89-73 win against the massively undermanned Boston Celtics. "His stats have been very consistent and based on his per-36 minutes-a-game stats, his last 15 games are right pretty much on par with his career. And so I think we’re really looking for spectacular things from him on a night-in, night-out basis; that’s not who he is.
"He’s a knowledgeable, a terrific all-around player who’s a great rebounder and a guy that has a special knack for putting the ball on the floor and making plays."
Odom is averaging just 21.5 minutes a game with Dallas. That's nearly 14 fewer minutes than his career average, so his numbers across the board are going to be down. However, there's no escaping the fact that Odom's shooting percentages, based on his career marks, have been dramatically depressed throughout the first half of the season -- 36.1 percent from floor, 27.5 percent from 3-point range and 57.7 percent from the free throw line.
He has had better games in recent weeks, flashes of the player the Mavs -- or at least their fans -- thought they were getting. But, back-to-back clunkers, 3-of-14 shooting, in the last two games has dropped his scoring average below 8.0 points a game, sixth-best on the team.
"His field-goal percentage is down, but if you go back and look at it the last 15 games since he’s really gotten into shape, my bet would be that it’s significantly higher than that," Carlisle said. "I’m basing what I’m saying on the last 15 games because, look, his summer was rough, he wasn’t in shape when he got here, all that’s been documented. What I can talk to you about is what I’ve seen and I saw the first 15 games and I’ve seen the last 16 or whatever it’s been, and there’s been marked improvement.
"But, if we’re looking for a guy that’s going to dazzle on a night-in, night-out basis with gaudy stats and a bunch of fancy stuff, that’s not who he is as a player and that’s not who he’s been as a player."
In Odom's last 16 games, including Monday's, he is 51-of-135 from the field for 37.8 percent, still no great shakes.
"Make shots," Odom said, a simple, but accurate answer to how he can improve his shooting percentage. "Just keep taking them. Can’t make them if you don’t take them. We’re winning ballgames in the meantime, so I just keep at it, try to add to the chemistry of the team, add to the depth."