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7 Los Angeles LAKERS
Arash Markazi
October 23, 2006
An off-season tragedy has made a key contributor even more determined
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October 23, 2006

7 Los Angeles Lakers

An off-season tragedy has made a key contributor even more determined

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F VLADIMIR RADMANOVIC* 9.8 ppg 4.6 rpg 1.8 apg 39.7 3FG% 81.6 FT%
G MAURICE EVANS* 5.0 ppg 2.0 rpg 0.51 spg 45.2 FG% 37.1 3FG%
F BRIAN COOK 7.9 ppg 3.4 rpg 0.46 spg 51.1 FG% 83.2 FT%
G JORDAN FARMAR (R)* 13.5 ppg 2.6 rpg 5.1 apg 1.11 spg 41.0 FG%
F LUKE WALTON 5.0 ppg 3.6 rpg 0.59 spg 41.2 FG% 32.7 3FG%

Lamar Odom had just botched his assignment on the final play of a tough loss in Washington, and Kobe Bryant was letting him and everyone within earshot know it. Bryant yelled at Odom on the court, off the court, in the hallway and in the locker room.

But rather than torpedo their relationship, Bryant's blowup on the day after Christmas actually made it stronger. "He was right," says the reserved Odom, who was the only player in the league to average at least 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists. "We just have different ways of going about it. Kobe's very intense, and sometimes he can't understand how somebody can drop the ball and miss a layup. He's going to ride you. We definitely complement each other as far as how we deal with our teammates, and for that we're the perfect match." Against all odds, the two combined to lead the Lakers into the playoffs and within a game of a first-round upset of the Suns.

Their partnership almost ended in June. While Odom was in New York City for an aunt's funeral, his six-month-old son, Jayden, died in his crib. "To this day it seems surreal that I was holding my son in a room for two, three hours with him being lifeless," Odom says. "I told some of my friends that I could call it a career at 26." Instead, the game has provided solace. "It's funny, because I think it's going to make me a better basketball player," he says. "I take my time right now more than ever in everything I do. I'm just looking forward to getting out there and being amongst my teammates every day."

Projected Starting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics

Record: 45--37 (7th in West)

Points scored: 99.4 (7th in NBA)

Points allowed: 96.9 (15th)

Coach: Phil Jackson

(second season with the Lakers)

Chris Mihm
POS. C
PPG 10.2
RPG 6.3
APG 1.0
BPG 1.24
SPG 0.27
FG% 50.1
FT% 71.6

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