Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2011 [Print without images]

Friday, May 6, 2011
Lamar Odom says he will start

By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com

DALLAS -- The Los Angeles Lakers' starting lineup will go big in the Big D for Game 3.

Lamar Odom said at the team's shootaround on Friday that he will start at small forward in place of Ron Artest, who is suspended for one game following his late hit to the face of Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea in Game 2.

"I'll try to fill another role," said Odom.

The news comes as a surprise considering the Lakers used the lineup of Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum on the court together for less than three total minutes during the regular season.

"I don't think it will be much of an adjustment," Odom said of the frontcourt that would run 6-foot-10, 7-foot, 7-foot with him, Gasol and Bynum. "We all know how to play basketball. We'll try to make the floor as small as possible. Make them beat us over the top [on defense].

"Usually that's not how we've played ... but we all know each other and we've played with each other and we know what to expect. We'll just go out and try to win a basketball game at this point."

Said Gasol: "It's not a lineup that is used regularly or often; only in need. I guess we are in need now."

The Lakers trail the Mavericks 2-0 in the second-round series.

While Odom would be listed at small forward, he would play more of a guard's role on offense when paired on the court with Kobe Bryant, allowing Bryant to attack from the wing.

Odom was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year during the regular season, but filled in 35 games as a starter at small forward when Bynum was out and Gasol shifted to center. He averaged 16.3 points and 10.2 rebounds as a starter and 13.0 points and 7.5 rebounds as a substitute. In two games off the bench against the Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals, Odom is averaging 10.5 points and 10.5 rebounds.

"He's versatile enough to play all five positions," Bryant said.

To him though, the bigger issue is not having Artest for 30-plus minutes.

"He's such a physical force," Bryant said. "Defensively, he sticks to guys and he gets a lot of loose balls, offensive rebounds to give us second possessions, steals, knocking balls loose. We're going to miss that energy."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson would not confirm his planned lineup change.

"I haven't said anything about it," said Jackson. "You know I'm not going to say anything about that. Why would you even ask?"

In the Lakers official game notes, Shannon Brown is listed at the starting shooting guard and Bryant is listed at the starting small forward.

Nonetheless, the Mavs don't think the Lakers will be hurt by a change.

"Odom will probably play more, and he's one of their best players," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "That could be a positive thing for them."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.