Updated: January 17, 2012, 10:37 AM ET

1. Ugly Game Overshadows Odom's L.A. Return

Adande By J.A. Adande
ESPN.com
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LOS ANGELES -- In these days when attention spans are shortened like hyperlinks on bit.ly, this Lakers-Mavericks game quickly went from being known as the rematch of the 2011 playoffs, to the return of Lamar Odom to revulsion at what a horrendous offensive display this was until it ultimately became a reminder: Derek Fisher can still make big shots.

So let's give Fisher some love for hitting the game-winning 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds remaining to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 73-70 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. More importantly, give him gratitude for preventing overtime and putting an end to an utterly forgettable night.

This game was to basketball what LSU-Alabama games are to football.

The Mavericks and the Lakers looked every bit the part of two teams playing their 14th and 15th games, respectively, since Christmas and two of the older (or "experienced," to use Fisher's euphemism, teams in the league).

It took Fisher's 3-pointer to move the Lakers off the equivalent of the fewest points ever scored by the team in the shot-clock era. It was the Lakers' first 3-pointer after nothing but misses in their first nine attempts, and "improved" their final shooting percentage to .382. Oh, the Lakers also needed an Andrew Bynum free throw with 17.5 seconds remaining in the third quarter to avoid matching the franchise-low of six points in a period.

It's not as though the Mavericks were lighting it up themselves. They shot 35 percent for the game, including 4-for-26 on 3-pointers.

"They're great shooters and I know they probably missed some, but I applaud my guys for trying to defend the right way," Lakers coach Mike Brown said.

This is the way the Lakers have been playing. The Mavericks were the sixth opponent they've held below 90 points in Staples Center this season. It's become their identity -- well, that and Kobe Bryant scoring like it's 2005-06 again. But Bryant's run of four consecutive games of 40-plus points came to an end Monday night, as he joined in the miss parade by shooting 7-for-22 for only 14 points.

Over the weekend, Bryant said the torn ligament in his right wrist felt stronger and that no one wants to hear any excuses from him if it weren't. He acknowledged he had trouble dribbling, though. And that showed Monday night when he kept losing the ball on the dribble and committed four turnovers.

Whether the wrist was acting up or he was adhering to Brown's team-wide request to focus on getting the ball inside, Bryant wasn't as aggressive offensively.

Or maybe he just had the sense that this wasn't going to be a good shooting night for anyone, be it atmospheric pressure or a disturbance in The Force. Pau Gasol was 3-for-11. Dallas' Shawn Marion and Jason Terry both went 3-for-10.

"Both teams, it was just an ugly game," said Dirk Nowitzki, who made a respectable eight of 17 shots. "Shots didn't fall."

They even stopped falling for Odom, who had been enjoying a rousing return to Staples Center. He still hasn't gotten over the circumstances that led to his abrupt trade from the Lakers to the Mavericks in December, and it's reflected in his morose play.

For a moment, however, he was back in the good graces of Lakerland, as the fans greeted him with a raucous standing ovation when he checked into the game in the first quarter.

Odom's comeback had become the dominant storyline, an angle for an entertainment media that apparently was already over the Golden Globe Awards. "Access Hollywood" and "Entertainment Tonight" had crews at Staples Center to interview various and assorted Kardashians with Khlomar back in town (not to mention Kim's ex, Kris Humphries, playing against the Clippers in the first game of the Martin Luther King Day doubleheader).

Odom's spirits appeared to be lifted. He made three of four shots in the first quarter, and to give you an idea of how out of character that is for him of late, those three field goals surpassed his total in eight of the 14 games he has played this season.

It was all enough to make you forget about the 36-point pounding the Mavericks put on the Lakers the last time they were together, in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle insisted that game didn't apply to this anyway.

"They're a different team and we're a different team, so there's not a whole lot there," he said. "They're playing a different style of defense, pick-and-roll-wise, which is a big adjustment. Their personnel is different."

Their coach is different. Ron Artest has a different name. And so on and so on.

But they still have the same backcourt that starts and finishes the games.

So with the score tied on their final possession, the Lakers spread the floor for Bryant. The player he trusts most after himself is Fisher, and that's who the Mavericks left open to double-team Kobe.

Not only has Fisher turned into a clutch shooter over the past eight years, he also had managed to put the cavalcade of missed shots out of his head in the fourth quarter.

"You just have to try and block out as much as possible the way the overall game is flowing and really try and zone in on your impact on the game," Fisher said.

Block out, erase, forget. That's the lesson we should all take from this evening of missed shots and dreadful basketball.

Odom left with the reality show cameras recording his lumbering steps out of the locker room and down the hallway.

When it's time to edit the footage of this night, I can think of 47 minutes, 56 seconds that deserve to end up on the proverbial cutting-room floor.


Dimes past: Jan. 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6-7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13-14 | 15

2. Celtics' Struggles Have Little To Do With Perk

By John Hollinger
ESPN.com

BOSTON -- It's not about Perk.

The Boston Celtics are struggling since trading Kendrick Perkins, no question about it. After Perk's new team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, came into Boston and won 97-88 on Monday, the Celtics are now 19-20 since shipping out their center at last season's trade deadline, including 4-8 this season. The loss was the fifth straight for Boston -- its longest skid since acquiring Kevin Garnett in 2007.

Perk's Oklahoma City team, meanwhile, is a league-best 12-2. Since acquiring Perkins, the Thunder have gone 31-9 over parts of the past two seasons.

And yet, it's hard to point to Perkins as the major catalyst for either side. The 27-year-old big man had seven points and five rebounds in his return to Boston, where he spent the first seven-plus seasons of his career. On the game's first possession, Perkins posted up Jermaine O'Neal, tried a running hook in the lane, and missed the rim by a foot to the right.

Read the rest from Hollinger on Boston's Big Three problems »

3. Melo Miffed By Knicks' Shooting Woes

By Ian Begley
ESPN New York
lastname
Anthony

Carmelo Anthony couldn't make shots on Monday afternoon. Neither could his teammates. And it sounds like the mounting misses are starting to get to the New York Knicks' superstar.

"It seems like we can't shoot the ball in the ocean right now, everybody," Anthony said. "We get stops, but then on the other end we can't score the basketball. I don't know what is it. We just have to get out of that slump, that shooting slump. We've got to start making shots."

Anthony was speaking in the collective "we" after Monday's loss to the Orlando Magic, but he could have easily pointed the finger at himself.

He missed 18 of 27 shots, including seven of his eight 3-point attempts against the Magic. He did finish with a game-high 33 points -- the fifth time he's cracked the 30-point mark this season -- but it came at a cost.

Read more on the Knicks' loss from Begley and the ESPN New York team »

4. Daily Dime Live Rewind

Relive and note all the chatter, memes and Photoshops of Monday's Daily Dime Live.


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