Sports

Odom a solid contributor for Mavs, Carlisle says

DALLAS -- The questions kept coming about the lack of impact Lamar Odom has had on the Dallas Mavericks this season.

And coach Rick Carlisle defended Odom as he would defend one of his own kids.

"We'd love for Lamar to be the kind of high-impact player that he is supposedly advertised as being," Carlisle said. "But the truth is his career has been a career of just -- he's been a consistent player -- his stats have been very consistent.

"Anyone looking for spectacular things from him on a night-in, night-out basis, that's not who he is. He's a knowledgeable, terrific all-around player, he's a great rebounder, and a guy that has a special knack for putting the ball on the floor and making plays."

Unfortunately for Odom, there haven't been many nights where he's made a lot of plays since the Mavs acquired him in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 10. Odom is averaging only 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in 21.4 minutes, while shooting 35.7 percent from the field and 25.9 percent from 3-point range.

But Carlisle said that Odom mainly had success playing power forward with the Lakers. Because Dirk Nowitzki is the Mavs' power forward, Odom has to fit in at another position.

"He's not playing power forward minutes, and he's not playing with two 7-footers that are great scorers in the post," Carlisle said.

"He's now splitting minutes between [small forward] and [power forward], which affects his rebounding. And his playmaking is going to be of a different nature at the [small forward] position, and so that's been a constant adjustment and he's making it."

Carlisle said that although Odom is not collecting big stats, he is contributing in other more subtle but important ways.

"Would I like to see more? Yes. Do I think we will? Yes," Carlisle said.

"But do I think it's going to manifest into a bunch of 25-point, 10-rebound games? I don't think so. I think his game is of a different nature and I'm challenging all of you in this room to dig into that and see the nuances with which he plays."

Carlisle said he's basically judging Odom over the last 15 games because he came into training camp out of shape. During that span, Odom is averaging 8.3 points and 4.3 rebounds, and shooting 37.1 percent (45 of 121) from the field.

"I don't think it's fair to look at a 1-for-6 (Odom had on Sunday against New York) and a 2-of-8 (Tuesday against Boston) and say, 'Hey, this guy's not doing anything,'" Carlisle said. "That's not true.

"If we didn't have him, Nowitzki wouldn't be averaging 30 minutes a game. And there's value in that."

Still, the fans want more. They want the Odom who was solid while helping the Lakers win NBA titles in 2009 and 2010, and the Odom who averaged 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds and shot 53 percent from the field while winning last year's Sixth Man Award.

The 'amazing' Kidd

When Jason Kidd moved past Michael Jordan and into the NBA's all-time No. 2 steals slot on Monday, Rick Carlisle had to sit back and take it all in.

"Jason Kidd's career has been amazing," Carlisle said. "You think about 18 years, that's almost two decades of really top-notch excellence. That's so many years that he's just made a major impact on the game.

"No. 2 all-time in assists, No. 2 all-time in steals, it's staggering, really. I'm just amazed the guy still has the motor that he has."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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