Odom Vows His Game Will 'Get Going'
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Lamar Odom hasn't had a Tortada yet and he hasn't had much game yet in these playoffs.
But both are on his to-do list.
The Los Angeles Lakers' forward, despite never having played in an All-Star Game, was deemed a big enough star for Taco Bell to feature him in his first high-profile national commercial, which initially aired during the Super Bowl.
Odom said the commercial for the NBA Five Buck Box, which primarily starred Charles Barkley, has made him a bit more recognized. And it seemed only natural to ask Odom if he has had the new Tortada, which Taco Bell is highly touting in ads as not being a sandwich despite a similar appearance.
"I haven't eaten a Tortada,'' Odom, whose national profile also has increased since last September's marriage to celebrity Khloe Kardashian, said in an interview with FanHouse before Friday's Game 5 at Oklahoma City. "A commercial is a commercial. I don't know if I'm going to Taco Bell every day. I'm going to have one, though. ... Every once in a while [Odom says he goes to Taco Bell].''
Lakers fans, though, undoubtedly want Odom to make it a higher priority to get his game going. In the first five games of the series, Odom is averaging just 7.6 points and 6.8 rebounds, well below his regular-season numbers of 10.8 and 9.8
But Odom vows his play will come around. He's confident the Lakers, who lead the West first-round series 3-2, will be in the playoffs for a while.
"I go through a dry spell some parts of the season,'' Odom said. "It's unfortunate that's it now. It's just basketball. Just go out and play. ... Just look for my offense when I can. Other than that, rebound.
"I'm going to be able to find my play. We're a great team, and a team like this buys you time. We're playing at a high level, and buying me a little bit of time, and I'll get going.''
Odom isn't quite sure why he's off to such a slow playoff start. He said having to readjust to coming off the bench could be one factor after Odom was a starter for the final month of the regular season while center Andrew Bynum was out due to injury.
While Odom might be having drive-in lapses at Taco Bell, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Odom is having driving troubles on the court.
"One of the things is he's hasn't been able to get to the basket without being challenged,'' Jackson said. "He had three or four charges in the first couple of games. I think that put a little hitch in his ability to drive and that's one of his specialties.''
Jackson did say Odom is "feeling better about his game'' the past two outings. In Game 4, he had 12 points and six rebounds, although he padded some of his stats after Oklahoma City was well on its way to a 110-89 rout. Game 5 was a 111-87 Lakers romp, but Odom did his work early, scoring all seven of his points, getting five of his eight rebounds and blocking two of his three shots in the first half.
Jackson has backed off a bit from when he was calling out Odom early in the series. Among other things, Jackson said he expressed the sentiment to Odom that he was "M.I.A.,'' which Odom said didn't bother him.
"Our relationship between you guys in the media and what we're doing here is part of the game,'' Odom said. "He expressed himself. It might be motivation to try to get me going.''
It was tougher to get Odom going offensively this season as he averaged the fewest points of his 11-year career and his field-goal percentage of 46.3 was the lowest of his six Lakers seasons. But Odom, in his second season as being primarily a sixth man, did average a career-best in rebounds per minute.
At 30, Odom is showing signs of slippage. But he still hopes there will be a place for him this summer on Team USA.
Odom, who won a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics, was named in February to USA Basketball's 27-man (now 32-man) working roster for this summer's World Championships and the 2012 Olympics. Unlike some players, he's not wavering in his commitment.
"I see no reason, besides my body, why I wouldn't give it a shot,'' Odom said. "If everything is the way it is now, I'm going to play. ... Even if we won in '04, playing in the Olympics is something that, my kids are a little older, I would like to be able to take them to the Opening Ceremonies. Win a gold medal. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.''
Perhaps Odom will end up being featured in a Taco Bell spot during the Olympics. By then, he should long be up to speed on the Tortada.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson