Even without the Package, the Lakers received a special gift Wednesday night.
That gift was the play of Lamar’s temporary replacement, Josh Powell, who contributed 17 points and nine rebounds in LO’s stead. Lamar was forced to serve a one-game suspension after leaving the bench in Monday’s altercation against the Blazers, rendering him ineligible for Wednesday’s game in Houston.
GOT YOUR BACK
Fortunately, Lamar’s boys had his back—the Lakers downed the hometown Rockets by a score of 102-96.
FRIEND OR FOE?
Ironically, some members of the other team had Lamar’s back too, in a way. Houston’s Ron Artest and coach Rick Adelman both defended Odom’s actions against Portland, and feel LO’s punishment wasn’t warranted.
“I don’t agree with (the rule),” Adelman said. “I think each instance should be evaluated based on what actually happened. To me, if it happens right in front of your bench, your bench is more likely to take one or two steps; the other bench is more like to stay right where they are. Sometimes, guys take a couple steps just to look. I think maybe it should be re-evaluated.”
Artest went even further with his defense of Odom, his childhood AAU teammate.
“He did the right thing by showing concern,” Artest said. “I don’t think he should have been suspended. That happened to me in Boston once. I came off the bench a little bit, but I still got suspended. I wish he wasn’t suspended.
“I guess anybody would be concerned if they saw any type of commotion happen. Their natural reaction is to show a little bit of concern with what is happening.”
LIVE AND LEARN
While it was certainly frustrating for Lamar and Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson to not have No. 7 in the lineup Wednesday, they both realize that, at this stage, the point is moot.
“There’s nothing I can do,” Odom said. “Next time I’ll know to be a good boy.”
“When an altercation happens right in front of a team’s bench, it’s almost impossible for players not to react to help their teammates, especially when somebody like [Brandon] Roy runs up into the fray and really activates everything,” Jackson said. “The instinct is to protect your players. Lamar made that step. Other guys had the instinct but didn’t make the step, so you know you made a mistake, you know the league rules, and we’ll have to deal with it.”
Lamar is itching to get back on the floor, and fortunately, he won’t have to wait long. Expect to see No. 7 back in the starting lineup as the Lakers take on the Spurs on Thursday night in San Antonio. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. PST, so tune into TNT to see LO back in action!
Josh Powell steps up big for Lakers (LATimes.com, March 12, 2009)
Artest disagrees with Odom suspension (Houston Chronicle, March 12, 2009)