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Friday, April 23, 2010
Jackson says Odom, reserves 'MIA'

By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Lamar Odom averaged just 5.5 points in the first two games of the Lakers' first-round series against the Thunder, about half his 10.8 regular-season average, leaving Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson to make a public plea to the media on Wednesday that he was waiting for Odom to step up and make an "imprint" on the series.

"I just mentioned that I thought he was an MIA in the last two games," Jackson said before Game 3. "That's the only message I gave him."

Jackson said his sixth man smiled when he received the message from the coach in person, but Odom was quite serious after the Lakers' 101-96 Game 3 loss to the Thunder on Thursday, calling out the reserve unit he is called upon to lead.

"Our bench has to do a better job of contributing," Odom said after Oklahoma City outscored the Lakers' bench 26-14. "Our starting five played great, we didn't play well."

Odom hit a 3-pointer with 2:00 left in the fourth quarter to bring the Lakers within three, 96-93, but finished 3-for-7 for the game for eight points plus six rebounds. Odom averaged 9.8 boards per game in the regular season.

Jackson gave credit to the Lakers' reserves overall for how they played in the first two games of the series, keeping pace with the Thunder largely because rookie James Harden was held scoreless in the first two games in Los Angeles.

Harden broke his scoreless streak in a big way in Game 3, finishing with 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Bynum feels "a little worse"

After taking Wednesday's practice off following just six points in Game 2, less than half of the 13 he had in Game 1, Andrew Bynum got back on track Thursday with 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with seven rebounds and a block.

Still, before the game began, the 7-footer said he was looking forward to Friday so he could work on his left Achilles tendon, which caused him to miss the final 13 games of the regular season due to a strain.

"I think [Friday] is going to be an even better day for me," Bynum said. "I have more time; I'll probably get two treatments in."

Bynum did not to use his off day Wednesday for as much rehab as he would have liked to because the team had to fly to Oklahoma City from Los Angeles.

Bynum, who said his progress was steadily moving forward in the near-month he was out, admitted that his ankle has regressed since returning to the court for the start of the series.

"I'm definitely positive [mentally] but it feels a little worse," Bynum said. "But [it's] not too bad. It's still something that's not really going to affect the way I play. ... It's definitely not 100 [percent], but it's not that bad."

When asked if the tendon's taking a step backwards caused him any doubt about how his body will be able to hold up if the Lakers make a long playoff run, the 22-year-old responded quickly: "No doubt."

Jackson is being patient with his center, not expecting Bynum to return to his regular-season averages of 15.0 points and 8.3 rebounds immediately.

"It's hard to project what level he can play at right now," Jackson said before the game. "It's inconsistent because he's just starting anew again after the injury. I think he'll start to sustain an effort as we go along."

As good as advertised

The sellout crowd of 18,342 did not disappoint on Thursday, turning the Ford Center into an ear-splitting sanctuary when the Thunder used an 8-0 run to tie the game in the last two minutes of the third quarter.

"It was great," Kobe Bryant said "It was one of the loudest crowds that I've played in front of in the postseason. At the end of the third quarter, it was like the barn in Sacramento. It was really loud."

Oklahoma City carried the surge into the fourth quarter, outscoring L.A. 27-21 in the final period to take home the victory.

"That's what a bunch of great fans can do for you," Bynum said. "They got rolling after that. The crowd gets into the game, KD [Kevin Durant] starts hitting floaters on shots that we were defending, and we just can't allow teams to go on runs like that."

Milestone for the Mamba

Bryant already passed Lakers great Jerry West as the franchise's all-time leading regular-season scorer, and now he's ahead of him on the Lakers' all-time playoff scoring list, as well.

Bryant surpassed West's mark of 4,457 postseason points with a 16-foot fadeaway jumper from the left wing with 9:23 remaining in the third quarter. In passing West, Bryant moved into fifth place on the NBA's all-time postseason scoring list.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.