Lamar Odom finding minutes at small forward

As the Mavs move closer to the end of the season, Rick Carlisle is playing Lamar Odom and Dirk Nowitzki together more frequently.

For much of the season, Odom has been Nowitzki’s replacement when he comes out of the game. When they’re both in the game, Odom plays small forward.

“It’s not that big of an adjustment for me, although I haven’t played it that much since 2003,” Odom said. “The biggest difference is that at small forward you play more from the waist down because of the guys you’re guarding, and at power forward you play more from the waist up.”

Carlisle said he likes having Odom on the floor with Nowitzki because he makes other players better.

“That’s the mark of greatness,” Carlisle said. “He can make individuals and a group raise their game to a higher level.”

We’re all looking for reasons Odom has struggled, besides inconsistent effort. Perhaps, he needs to play with a higher-caliber player who can take advantage of his multi-faceted skill set.

If you think about it, he spent much of his time with the Lakers on the court with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum. He had played well in consecutive games against Houston and Miami.

“I’m feeling more confident,” Odom said. “My legs are getting stronger and I feel like I can make a move and then finish at the end of it. So much of pro sports is about confidence.”

He scored just two points and played only 12 minutes Friday, in part, because Shawn Marion and Nowitzki played so well. Now that Carlisle has a full roster of available players, the competition for playing time every night is about to get much tougher.