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Thursday, March 22, 2012
Kobe Bryant backs Lamar Odom

By Tim MacMahon
ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- There are no longer scattered boos for Dallas Mavericks forward Lamar Odom at the American Airlines Center. Wednesday night, boos come in a chorus.

"That's just stupidity," Kobe Bryant said.

Bryant appeared to give his former teammate a pick-me-up speech after the Los Angeles Lakers' lopsided 109-93 victory over the Mavericks. Bryant spoke into Odom's ear for several seconds and patted him on the chest at the end of the one-sided conversation.

"None of your business what I said," Kobe snapped when asked about the chat.

The boos, which were especially loud after Odom bricked a free throw in the second quarter, prompted Khloe Kardashian to share her feelings with the six-plus million people who follow her on Twitter. She felt the need to stand up for her husband while watching from her usual seat behind the Mavs' television broadcast crew.

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant wouldn't specify what he told slumping former teammate Lamar Odom on Wednesday.

"Positive energy goes a long way. ... This crowd needs to figure out who they are rooting for! Let's go Mavs!!!!" read one Kardashian tweet. Another said: "Everyone/anyone is entitled and expected to miss a basket but either way the positive energy will fuel these Mavs!!!! We got this!"

Odom hasn't been inspiring much positive energy his way. His one-point, one-rebound, one-assist, one-steal outing Wednesday was lackluster even by the low standards Odom has established for himself this season.

Bryant insists it isn't all Odom's fault that the multi-skilled forward's numbers are career lows almost across the board.

"It's tough," Bryant said. "He comes to a team that's pretty much set, you know what I mean? So it's hard for him to find his niche. The fans, they don't really understand what he does or how he can do it, you know what I mean?

"I hope they don't unlock that mystery. I know. I know how to use him and to use his skill set and this, that and the other. But with this team, the roster that they had being pretty much set, it's tough for him to be able to find his groove here."

Bryant playfully said that he is "pleasantly surprised" that Odom hasn't found a way to be productive for the Mavs yet, considering that the teams could meet in the playoffs.

Bryant added that Odom is a player that needs to be featured, not just plugged into a system.

"Of course I had a lot of fun with those guys," Odom said of the Lakers, "but I'm here now and I have to focus on winning games and finding out how to fit my game to help this team down the stretch."

The problem with Bryant's theory: How do you feature somebody who appears to have lost confidence? Odom, who is shooting .345 from the floor after a 9-of-40 funk over the last seven games, looks like a guy who wants no part of having the ball in his hands.

"As a shooter, as a player, if you get a little hesitant, it's over," Dirk Nowitzki said. "Once you start thinking in this game, that's tough."

It's been tough for Odom since he arrived from LA. It'll get even tougher if he lets the boos go to his head.