Arash Markazi
Tuesday May 27th, 2008

SAN ANTONIO -- Lamar Odom didn't need to see the stat sheet to know he had a bad game, but he looked at it anyway. He stared at it in front of his locker after the Lakers' 103-84 loss to the Spurs on Sunday in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.

"There's no way I can play like that if we're going to be successful," said Odom, who scored seven points on 2-of-11 shooting and reminded reporters that he also committed five turnovers. "I've got to play better than that. I put this one on myself. I'll take the blame."

After eating dinner with his teammates, Odom returned to his hotel room and watched a replay of the game before finally falling asleep about 4 a.m. A day later, his opinion of his performance remained unchanged as he returned to the court for practice at the AT&T Center, where the Lakers were preparing for Tuesday night's Game 4.

"The opportunities were right there," he said. "I know what I need to do. ... Get to the paint, just finish it. It was an eight-point game in the second quarter, and if I could have made some plays, we would have had a chance. It made me upset."

While Odom was no doubt focusing on his own performance, he wasn't the only Laker who didn't show up in Game 3. Outside of Kobe Bryant, who scored 30 points and single-handedly kept the Lakers within striking distance in the first half, no one stepped forward in Los Angeles' quest to take a 3-0 series lead.

Derek Fisher went scoreless in the first half and finished with two points, missing his only three-point attempt of the series. Pau Gasol missed shot after shot in the paint and closed with 15 points on 7-of-18 shooting. No bench player connected on more than one shot besides point guard Jordan Farmar, who made four field goals for 10 points. The Lakers' ineffectiveness even stretched to the free-throw line, where they made 8-of-17 attempts, including 3-of-8 from Odom.

"I think they missed a lot of easy ones," Bryant said of his teammates' struggles. "The shots that they normally make didn't fall for them. I don't think it's something they should get too discouraged about. I felt like we got in the paint. We just missed a lot of bunnies, a lot of easy ones. It just rolled of the rim."

The disappearance of Fisher, who also went scoreless in the first half of Game 1 before finishing with just four points on 1-of-9 shooting, has been surprising considering his steadying presence throughout the postseason. While Fisher is not necessarily known as a scorer, he set the tempo for the Lakers' 101-71 victory in Game 2 when he quickly scored seven points in the first quarter.

"You play half-court offense against a very good defensive team every possession, and it's going to be hard to score." Fisher said. "We have to try to do a better job of getting stops on our end, which will allow us to get out into the open court a little better."

Indeed, Bryant was critical of the Lakers' defense, which allowed 32 more points in Game 3 than it did in Game 2 in Los Angeles.

"Our defense sucked," Bryant said Monday. "Our defense was terrible. We gave up three-point plays, we gave up wide-open looks. We have to do a better job."

Coach Phil Jackson, however, seemed unfazed by the Lakers' defensive lapses, knowing that the Spurs' aren't likely to convert 51.4 percent (38-of-74) from the field and 55.6 percent (10-of-18) from beyond the arc again after shooting 37.5 and 25.5 percent, respectively, in the first two games. Manu Ginobili epitomized the Spurs' turnaround: After scoring 17 points on 5-of-21 shooting in the first two games, the Sixth Man Award winner had 30 points and made five first-half three-pointers in Game 3.

"Those shots he was making, it didn't matter who you put on him," Jackson said. "The guys were on him defensively and I thought those were shots that were just impossible shots. You just tap the guy on the butt and say good shot and come back and play offense. That's all you can do in those situations."

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