Yet another storyline unfolded in the third quarter of Tuesday's win over the New York Knicks. A rather unflattering sequence for Odom got owner Mark Cuban, intently observing from his usual baseline locale, hot and voicing apparent directives at Odom to get things in gear.
With about 2:45 left in the quarter, Odom let his man, Tyson Chandler, drift behind him to the basket. Chandler received the pass and had a clear path for a dunk until Shawn Marion slid over, contested at the rim and forced Chandler to miss the two-handed dunk attempt. The rebound bounced out to Jason Kidd at the free throw line, who pushed it up the floor.
Odom jogged upcourt and made it only to the top of the arc by the time Kidd dished to Jason Terry on the wing. Without hesitation, Terry misfired on a 3-pointer. Odom started to backpedal as Terry launched the shot. Carmelo Anthony rebounded and handed the ball off to Jeremy Lin. Odom had already retreated beyond mid-court and back near the 3-point arc, yet Landry Fields ran right by him, caught a long, two-handed pass from Lin and soared in for the easy layup.
Coach Rick Carlisle instantly called a timeout as Cuban rose to his feet and emphatically jabbed his right arm and looked to have flung some choice words in Odom's direction. Odom, cradling the basketball in his right arm, slowly walked to the bench as he appeared to fix his gaze toward Cuban.
The scene was just one like many others to come and go at a Mavs again until it was shared on Twitter by Knicks beat writer and NBA TV contributor Frank Isola. Cuban rising up from his seat to share his thoughts with referees, opposing players and, yes, even his own players can be and often is an every-game occurrence. Dirk Nowitzki has even seemed to fire back at his boss a time or two.
But, because this is Lamar Odom, and nothing concerning Odom is easily discernible, everything is sharply scrutinized. The fact that Odom had a rough game (three points on 1-of-9 shooting and four rebounds) on the night that Cuban publicly backed the forward adds more fuel to the fire.
After the game, Odom, typically affable and accessible, was a rare no-show in the Mavs' locker room. Cuban blew off the matter because it was nothing out of the norm for him at any given game.
It's been two weeks since Odom left the team due to a "family matter." The supposed one-game absence turned into four and before Odom could return to the team, he and agent Jeff Schwartz had to meet with Cuban in Dallas while the Mavs were getting kicked in Memphis.
Reasons for the extended absence and the need for such a meeting have not been divulged beyond Odom needing the time to tend to a serious family issue.
Since his return, he has stated and re-stated his desire to be with the Mavs, and Carlisle and Cuban have said they believe Odom is fully on board.
"To be in a position with a team that’s established a winning tradition, has great ownership, everybody’s involved, positive, I’m fortunate," Odom said Monday night at Oklahoma City.
Odom returned to action Saturday night with what Carlisle characterized as his most energetic game of the season. Carlisle and teammates commented that an Odom that brings effort like that on a nightly basis is an Odom they can live with.
At least for one sequence Tuesday night, Cuban appeared to be wanting more.