Lamar Odom returned to the Lakers' lineup last night in Houston, and his arrival came just in the nick of time. With the team already down Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar, they may not have been able to beat the Rockets without his interior defense down the stretch.
Since Lamar wouldn't be risking any structural damage to the knee, his coming back was simply a question of whether or not he could deal with the pain. Odom said he was a "gamer," and that playing before he got too rusty was more important than resting for too long and having to work his way back into shape.
"That's what being a sportsman is all about. You're going to play banged up sometimes," Odom said. "This is what we do. This is our job. If you can tape it up, then tape it up and play and bear with it."
“Hopefully during the year it will get back to where it was before I hurt it, but for right now I need to play basketball and help this team win basketball games. I don’t want to sit down and get rusty and have to work myself back into basketball shape and (stuff) like that — especially if I feel like I can play, you know what I mean?”
Odom dealt with pain in that same knee the last two seasons due to tendonitis, so he might actually be used to playing through it by now. Still, as the team heads to San Antonio to face a tough Spurs team on the second night of a back-to-back, we'll see how he handles the pounding on less than a single day's rest.