Struggling Lamar Odom and Kevin Garnett Will Have to Step It Up in Game 3


Jun 8, 2010

Struggling Lamar Odom and Kevin Garnett Will Have to Step It Up in Game 3 When it comes to Lamar Odom, the NBA Finals is like a bag of Gummi Bears. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Last year, Odom was a beast in the Finals against the Magic, dropping 13.4 points points per contest and giving the Lakers two double-doubles in five games. This time around? You wonder why he bothered to show up.

Odom has played a total of 36 minutes in this series, and he’s given the Lakers eight points and nine rebounds. Considering he’s been arguably the best bench player in the NBA this postseason, and he’s part of the Lakers’ crunch-time rotation even when he doesn’t start, those numbers don’t exactly represent a breakthrough Finals.

In both Games 1 and 2, Odom has hopped off the bench, gotten into quick foul trouble, and failed to find a rhythm at any point.

The Lakers could really use Odom’s A game. You could argue that his lack of production is a big reason L.A. didn’t have the firepower to come all the way back and win Game 2 at home. If they’ve got one more explosive big man to push the Celtics around, that might put them over the top.

But Odom, for all his shortcomings in this series, has been overshadowed by another power forward who came in facing high expectations.

What happened to Kevin Garnett?

KG is the Celtics’ defensive backbone, as always. But where are the numbers? The Big Ticket was anything but big in Game 2, spending the whole night in foul trouble. He finished with a paltry six points. He’s now averaging 10 points, 4 rebounds and 3.5 assists in this series, and he’s being eaten alive by Pau Gasol.

Anything is possible, KG always says. Anything except leading your team to Finals glory with numbers like that.

Both of these men, Odom and Garnett, caught a lot of flak as they spent the first decade of their careers trying to win a championship. Garnett slaved away in Minnesota, where people thought he was a little too crazy and didn’t quite have what it took to win a title. Odom was a star in L.A. — first for the Clippers — but fans agonized over his inconsistent play and wondered if maybe his sweet tooth was the problem.

Both men are champions now. But don’t they want to win again? And that being the case, will one or both of them step up and play like a champion from Game 3 on?

If I’m Odom, I’m coming out Tuesday night in Boston and devouring the Celtics’ vaunted defense like it’s a pack of Starburst. If I’m Garnett, I’m hitting the TD Garden floor and throwing down a monstrous dunk in Gasol’s face right away, asking him, “Who’s ‘lost some explosiveness’ now?”

This series means so much to both of these veteran forwards. Both Garnett, 34, and Odom, 30, will soon start to think about the end of the road in their NBA careers, one, of course, sooner than the other. Neither one wants to think about retiring with just one ring.

Not when you’re a Celtic. Not when you’re a Laker. Winning one title makes you a face in the crowd. Winning more than one makes you a legend among men.

Both guys have been virtually MIA so far. But both have all the reason in the world to turn it on in Game 3.

So let’s set aside the bulletin-board material, and set aside the Twizzlers. Let’s set aside all the distractions and see who can take the floor and play.

Both Garnett and Odom want a title. One of them will have to step up and earn it.

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