DALLAS -- Lamar Odom's performances as a Dallas Maverick have been so underwhelming this season that on those nights when he shows a pulse, plays with a purpose and contributes to a victory, it gets bear-hug treatment from coach Rick Carlisle.
So when Odom played 23 minutes Saturday night with confidence, attacked and knocked down shots, contributing 10 points, five rebounds and no turnovers (and truth be told he was robbed of at least a pair of assists) in the wild 97-94 double overtime victory against Portland, Carlisle ranked the performance among the forward's best.
"I thought Lamar Odom played one of his best games of the year tonight," Carlisle said. "He had great energy, he was attacking, he was into the game. Dirk had some struggles early in the third, we went to Lamar, he made a couple big plays, hit a 3, it was stuff that kept us going during a tough spot."
At the 7:11 mark of third quarter, Nowitzki fouled Gerald Wallace for and-1, didn't like the call, made his feelings about it known and got hit with a technical. He sat down for the next five-plus minutes with Portland scraping and scrambling to try to get back in the game.
Odom immediately drained a 3-pointer and Vince Carter followed with his own to balloon the lead back to 14. Odom hit another 3 with 8:51 to go that increased a shrinking six-point lead to nine. Moments earlier he put a spin move on Nicolas Batum and put it in off the glass.
"I think right now it's important for me to play well and give the big fella a little bit of a break without us falling off too much. And when I say the big fella, I mean Dirk," Odom said. "He deserves a rest and deserves to be able to come out of the game and for the team not too fall off too much."
Odom finished 4-of-5 from the field and 3-of-3 in the second half when the Mavs needed it most.
"My body is getting back to where it needs to be," Odom said. "I feel a lot more comfortable and confident making moves. And not just making a move, but coming up out of the move, making a move or two and getting out of it and being explosive, being able to share the ball and make the right basketball play.
"Now, If I could hit a free throw then I'll be able to finish these games."
Odom, 0-of-2 at the line and shooting a woeful 57.5 percent on the season, might not be closing out games anyway. He won't be bumping Dirk Nowitzki out of the lineup, and Shawn Marion, who grabbed five of his team-high 12 rebounds in the second overtime, certainly won't go quietly.
But it's one step at a time, and on Saturday night Odom took another one.
Here's three more things to consider after the Mavs won their third in a row to move back to a season-high six games over .500:
1. Big Brendan Haywood: LaMarcus Aldridge showed why he's an All-Star with his 33-point, 12-rebound effort Saturday night. He made 14-of-26 shots and split his rebounds evenly at both ends. But, give the Mavs' 7-foot center credit, too. Dallas uses its centers to guard Aldridge, a power forward, because the Blazers don't have an offensive threat at the 5. That's a big job for Haywood, who must cover a lot of ground against the far more agile Aldridge, whose bread-and -butter is a beautiful mid-range fall-away. Haywood made his younger opponent work for his points and Aldridge had to double-pump in mid-air just to get his first overtime game-tying attempt up, and it bounced around the rim before dropping. Hawyood logged 38 minutes, nine more than his previous season high, leaving Ian Mahinmi and new fan favorite Brandan Wright mostly to watch from the sideline. Haywood finished with seven points on 3-of-4 shooting and 10 rebounds, his sixth double-figure rebound game of the season.
2. Turnovers are weird: The Mavs were fortunate to escape Minnesota having committed 18 turnovers (mostly because the Timberwolves coughed it up a remarkable 28 times). So Dallas was even more fortunate to get away with 23 turnovers Saturday night against Portland. The return of Jason Kidd was supposed to help cut down turnovers, so 41 in the last two games is certainly a cause for concern. The Mavs were turnover-free after one quarter and then committed eight in each the second and third quarters. The Blazers converted the 23 turnovers into only 23 points. Carlisle noted his concern by saying, "We're doing some things that are just uncharacteristically weird out there with the ball, and it's not like us.''
3. Free Roddy B?: Well, the return of Jason Kidd has sent Rodrigue Beaubois back to the end of the bench -- the deep, deep end. In Kidd's two games back, Beaubois has not played a second, has not needed to remove his sweats. He had the nice bounce-back game at Denver, scoring 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting one game after it appeared his confidence was totally shot (again) at Cleveland. It's so hard to figure what Beaubois' future holds. With Delonte West playing well, the minutes are going to be limited and maybe reserved for garbage time or strategically placed during extremely busy portions of the schedule. As of now the latest Free Roddy B revival was a short-lived one.