Jeez, can Lamar Odom get a little bit of help?!
OK, that’s a slight exaggeration of Odom’s effectiveness in Thursday’s lopsided loss to the Miami Heat. However, the fact that Odom has had two consecutive solid performances is a pretty significant developing story for the Mavericks.
Odom has struggled all season and had been especially awful in the last few weeks, leading coach Rick Carlisle to bench him for last week’s loss against the San Antonio Spurs. Odom played 13 scoreless minutes the next night, but he suddenly resembled an offensive threat after slapping on a headband in Tuesday’s rematch against the Houston Rockets.
Odom had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting in Tuesday’s win over the Rockets. He followed that up with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting against the Heat.
Odom, who also had four rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes, gave the Mavs a fighting chance entering the fourth quarter by scoring Dallas’ final nine points of the third. That’s quite a scoring spree for a dude averaging 6.9 points on 35 percent shooting this season.
"My legs are finally getting underneath me," said Odom, who admittedly reported to training camp in awful shape. "I feel like I can come out of a move and make a shot. It’s a big difference. Sports are about confidence."
A few more notes from the Mavs’ loss to their Finals foe:
1. Welcome back, West: Guard Delonte West returned after missing 21 games due to a gruesomely fractured right ring finger. The left-handed West scored seven points on 3-of-3 shooting in eight minutes against the Heat, but there was evidence of rust. West, who will deal with significant pain in his surgically repaired finger the rest of the season, was stripped twice. Ballhandling could be an issue for West, who is playing with his middle finger and ring finger taped together.
"Everything considered, Delonte West played great," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I have never seen a guy come back from being out five and a half weeks and hit his first three shots. It was phenomenal."
2. Carter starts fast and fades: Vince Carter knocked down three 3-pointers while scoring a team-high nine points in the first quarter, which ended with the Mavs up 29-24. He scored only two points, attempted only two shots and played only eight minutes the rest of the night, dealing with neck soreness after being elbowed early in the second half. Carter didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter, when the Heat held the Mavs to 13 points on 3-of-19 shooting.
3. Dirk’s disappearing act: The Finals MVP was dominant in the first half, but Dirk Nowitzki didn’t exactly finish strong. Nowitzki finished with 25 points on 9-of-19 shooting, but he missed his final eight shots from the floor.