- Tim MacMahon, ESPNDallas.com
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A day after sitting out because of a coach's decision for the first time in his 13-year career, Odom played Saturday night in a 101-99 overtime win against the Houston Rockets. He grabbed two rebounds but didn't score or have an assist and also committed a turnover in 13 minutes of play.
"Hey, he's trying his ass off," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "That's all we can ask of him."
Odom was the first man off the Mavs' bench, checking into the game with 7:47 remaining in the first quarter after Shawn Marion picked up two quick fouls. He played only four minutes in the second half.
"It was quick, but it was cool," Odom said of his outing against the Rockets. "We won. That's all that matters."
Odom didn't play in Friday night's loss against the San Antonio Spurs because Carlisle said he wanted to "look at a different rotation." Odom, who had never sat out a game due to a coach's decision before in his 13-year career, was coming off the worst game of his disappointing season: a one-point, one-rebound, one-assist, 24-minute outing in Wednesday's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, Carlisle indicated that he plans for Odom to have a role for the rest of the season.
"His minutes are valuable," Carlisle said before Saturday's game. "We're (0-6) without him. Regardless of what you read into statistically, there's a correlation there to our success. We've got a relatively short period of time here, but I think the thing that's important to identify (is) it's not about Lamar. It's not about any individual guy or any of that kind of stuff. It's about winning games."
Odom, the Sixth Man of the Year for the Lakers last season, has struggled professionally and personally since Dallas acquired him in a salary-dump deal in December. He has career lows in most categories, putting up approximately half his career norms in scoring (7.0 points per game) and rebounding (4.4).
Odom took a 10-day leave starting the night before the All-Star break to deal with unspecified personal issues, missing four games during that span. His performance has regressed since then, hitting rock bottom Wednesday night.
While many of the Mavericks watched March Madness before Saturday's game, Odom and owner Mark Cuban had a long conversation in the corner of the visitors' locker room at the Toyota Center.
"Just talking," said Cuban, who also met with Odom over two days in Dallas while the Mavs were on a road trip at the end of his personal leave. "He's an emotional guy, and sometimes you just want to talk to the guy in charge."
Odom declined to discuss his conversation with Cuban. "Private," Odom said.
Odom acknowledged Friday night that boos from the home crowd have bothered him. He also implied that not playing because of a coach's decision further damaged his confidence.
"I mean, a situation like this, do you think it helps or hurts confidence?" Odom said.
Carlisle said he isn't concerned about the Odom's confidence.
"He gives us length, he gives us rebounding, he gives us playmaking," Carlisle said. "None of those things are confidence related. My experience over the years with players that supposedly have confidence issues is if you get out there and pour it all out there physically and just leave it on the court, those things take care of themselves. I'm not concerned about that."
Added Cuban, when asked about Odom's psyche: "I think we'll find out when he gets on the court, right?"
Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said Lamar Odom will play Saturday night against the Houston Rockets, a day after Odom didn't play due to a coach's decision for the first time in his 13-year career.