- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 96-85 win against the Utah Jazz on Friday ...
Lamar Odom is usually a 6-10 bundle of energy before a game.
Sometimes he'll get in an extra couple sets of push-ups and sit-ups right before tip-off.
Other times he'll work the room, talking to teammates and reporters about what's going on in the world of sports on that particular day.
Then there are the days he'll rifle through a bag of candy to get that last sugar rush before taking the court.
Before the game Friday in Utah however, Odom just sat slumped in his chair leaning his head against his locker. He barely moved other than to shuffle to the bathroom. He hardly spoke and with baseball's opening day just passed and his Yankees starting with a win there was plenty to talk about. He didn't dare eat and instead gingerly took sips from a cup of water.
When the game started he had to run back to the locker room twice more before he checked in for the first time.
"I was back there throwing up. I don’t know if it was what I ate, or what," revealed Odom after the game. He was officially listed with gastroenteritis (stomach flu), yet played through it. "Guys like Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol, these guys are great and they don’t miss games if they’re hurt, tired [or] sick. You learn from their greatness. It rubs off on you."
Odom finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes and hit a 3-pointer early on in the fourth quarter to put L.A. up double digits that really broke Utah's spirits after they had led by as many as 17.
"Come on, lock him in -- Sixth Man of the Year," Bryant said after the game, continuing to be Odom's No. 1 spokesman for the award. "It shouldn’t even be a question."
Said Gasol: "He gave us everything he’s got as usual, but more credit to him for not feeling well [and playing]. Throwing up is not something easy to deal with when you have to play an NBA game, but he played really well."
Of course, it wasn't the first good game a player has had with the flu in Salt Lake City.
Bryant shot 10 free throws, upping his total attempts over the last five games to 61 (12.2 per game). Through the first 70 games of the season, Bryant only averaged 6.7 free throw attempts per game.
"That was a big key for us to kind of control the pace of the game," Bryant said. "We got to the line a lot."
The Lakers shot 30 free throws, but made just 21 as Andrew Bynum went 3-for-9 from the stripe to account for most of the misses. The Jazz were 15-of-18 on free throws.
Granted, Odom played well and Matt Barnes was suspended so the bench wasn't totally intact, but Jackson would still like to see more production out of his second unit, particularly Shannon Brown.
"We really need Shannon to get back and get that chip on his shoulder and play the way we was -- making shots and doing stuff," Jackson said. "We can’t have Lamar carry the whole load there."
Brown had six points on 3-for-7 shooting and two rebounds in 17 minutes Friday. Brown averaged 11.1 points per game on 48 percent shooting in 15 games in November, but has been on the decline since then as he dipped down to 6.8 points on 40 percent shooting in 13 games in March.
"I’m getting everything back," Brown said. "I think I did hit a little wall where my legs and my body and my mind got a little fatigued but I’m definitely coming back out of that. I just got to turn it on."
The good news is he doesn't feel like he has drastic improvements to make.
"It’s not like it’s off terribly," he said of his jump shot. "It’s just missing so I just got to keep shooting it."
Surely part of the reasoning the league gave Barnes the one-game suspension was that when he pushed Mavs assistant coach Terry Stotts away from him, Stotts fell into two fans sitting courtside. Lakers trainer Gary Vitti gave one of the fans, Kay Harrington, treatment to a gash on her left forearm where a chunk of skin was peeled back from the coach falling into her.
Harrington has been going to Lakers games and sitting side by side Yori Saneyoshi, who owns the front row season tickets, for more than 20 years.
Vitti smiled when asked about Harrington's health the day after and shared an e-mail she sent to him Friday:
Many thanks for the speedy first class first aid. I’m very appreciative. Got several calls re: the “injury.” I tell them that I, like Kobe, don’t talk about injuries. This time of year everyone is beat up …
I’m good to go.
One more note on that crazy Mavs game: Theo Ratliff played for the first time since Nov. 9 after taking a long time to recover from left knee surgery. He didn't wade back into the action either, it was more like baptism by fire. When Steve Blake was ejected from the game with two free throws still owed to him, NBA rules dictated the opposing coach got to choose who shoots them instead. Rick Carlisle had his eyes on Ratliff.
"I knew when it happened, when Steve got kicked out, I knew," Ratliff said. "I hadn’t been in and he’s not going to pick Joe [Smith], who’s a shooter, he’s not going to pick him. Obviously I was going to be the choice."
Ratliff missed both free throws and played two minutes before returning to the bench, his night finished.
The Lakers' 17-1 record since the All-Star break is doing a lot to change the conversations about the league's major awards and make sure that the the purple and gold platoon are represented. You already read about Bryant campaigning for Odom to win Sixth Man. What about Bryant for MVP and Jackson for Coach of the Year? That's what ESPN.com's LZ Granderson argued should be the case, pointing out the travesty that each man only has one of those trophies to call their own. The NBA added some momentum to Granderson's mindset Friday by naming Jackson as the Western Conference Coach of the Month the same day Bryant was named the Western Conference Player of the Month after being named player of the week by the West a few days ago.
John Stockton was at the game and received a loud standing ovation in between the third and fourth quarters, but there was definitely something missing on Friday in Utah. No Jerry Sloan. No Deron Williams. And no chance of the Lakers meeting the Jazz in the playoffs for a fourth straight season after Utah's loss to L.A. officially eliminated the Jazz from this year's postseason.
"What a difference a year makes," said Bryant. "Not having Jerry down there is a little weird ... I always looked down to him before the game and acknowledge him and to look over there and not see him there was different."
Jackson equated the Jazz's struggles this season to what's going on in Sacramento, marking the second time in a week where the coach has had strong things to say about the Kings' relocation plans to Anaheim.
"It’s something that you kind of rue the demise of teams that had an era," Jackson said. "We’re watching Sacramento up there in California that’s been going through it three or four years after having the best fans in the league and a strong fan core out there to threatening to move that franchise. Seeing them go through all that stuff is really pretty hard."
Quote of the night: "That kitty cat can’t hurt me ... teddy bears don’t ignite me." -- Bryant alternating between animal nicknames for Utah's Kyrylo Fesenko who Bryant painfully bumped knees with in the second half. The Lakers later went on a 26-5 run after Fesenko tossed the ball at Bryant's feet, resulting in a technical foul.
Stats of the night: The Lakers started the second quarter being outscored 11-2 by the Jazz and ended the quarter on a 10-0 run ... Utah lost for just the third time all season when guard C.J. Miles scores 20-plus points, falling to 13-3 in that scenario as Miles pumped in 24 on Friday.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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