DENVER -- As
Odom, who had 20 points and eight rebounds off the bench to help the Lakers beat the Nuggets 119-92
"I walked to 7-11 when we got off the plane and got all this stuff," said Odom pointing to a bag full of medicine and an empty 24-pack of water. "I finished a whole case of water and I'm trying to get better but I've been having night sweats. I really need to rest."
Despite struggling to walk (he suffered a back contusion against Houston two weeks ago) and barely being able to talk, Odom and the rest of the Lakers bench did their part to avoid a weekend Game 7 against the Nuggets. The Lakers bench, which also got 10 points from
"They have a great bench, but we have a great bench too," said Walton. "We made it a point before the game to come out and compete and win the match-up between the two benches. They outperformed us a couple games and we weren't going to let that happen tonight."
Odom, who had 12 points and three rebounds in the fourth quarter, put together two great performances (he had 19 points and 14 rebounds Wednesday) for the first time in these playoffs, and not surprisingly, the Lakers put together their best back-to-back games this postseason.
The tired old theory about the Lakers is that when and if Odom can find a way to string together a run of great games the Lakers are an unstoppable force. Nuggets coach
He's like the smart kid in class who can easily get straight A's and be valedictorian, but far too often gets by with a blasé "C's get degrees" attitude. As easy as Odom makes basketball look at times -- with his 6-foot-10, 230-pound frame running the offense like a point guard one minute and banging the boards like a center the next -- getting him to play up to his potential has been nearly impossible during his career.
Yet as Odom crumples the Conference Championship shirt and hat into his bag, he knows that his time is now. Not so much because he is a free agent this summer, although that helps, but because after being criticized for disappearing in the NBA Finals last year, he knows that there is no other time and no other venue for him to reveal the player most have been waiting a decade to see. It's now or never for the league's biggest enigma.
"It's my tenth year and I'm 29, how many more chances am I going to get?" said Odom. "Maybe five more? You never know."
Odom, however, isn't alone in his inability to always play up to his potential. Outside of
"The scary thing is I don't think at any point this season have we all clicked at the same time. Hopefully that's still yet to come," said Lakers assistant coach