Pregame buzz: Lamar Odom just has to play hard

HOUSTON -- Lamar Odom will return to the Mavs' rotation after a one-game hiatus.

Odom will play against the Rockets. His role isn't clear, but his job requirements are as simple as could be.

"He’s just got to play hard," said owner Mark Cuban, who huddled with Odom in the corner of the visitors' locker room at the Toyota Center for several minutes Saturday evening. "If he plays hard, good things will happen."

Good things haven't happened very often this season for Odom, who is averaging career lows almost across the board. How often has he actually played hard?

"More often than you think," Cuban said. "He’s a flow player. He tries to get in the flow of the game. I think he’s just got to impact the flow of the game instead of become part of the flow. I think he’s a feel player, and that’s tough sometimes."

Coach Rick Carlisle stressed that Odom is "an important part of our team even though he’s not having a good year statistically." Cuban said the Mavs aren't concerned about Odom's statistics.

"When he comes in, does the lead go up or down?" Cuban said. "That’s all I care about. I think one of Lamar’s challenges is he tries too hard to make the right basketball play. That helps us sometimes and sometimes we just need him to, because he’s the better player, just do what he’s got to do."

The lead has usually gone in the wrong direction for Dallas with Odom on the court. The Mavs continue to hold out hope that can change.