NEW ORLEANS - Lamar Odom cruised into the lane on a fastbreak, putting the ball behind his back and bouncing a finger roll off the back rim before rising back up to jam home the rebound.
The play sent his Lakers teammates into giggling fits while New Orleans coach Monty Williams disgustedly called a timeout.
“It’s funny that a play like that happens in New Orleans,” Odom said. “Basketball is almost like jazz, right? Because if you make one move, you can take it to another move, but you never know which way it’s going.”
Suddenly, the looks of anger and frustration that characterized Los Angeles’ three-game losing streak were history. A commanding 103-88 victory over the Hornets brought back the fun of the game — perhaps more so for Odom than anyone, even though he found himself out of the starting lineup for the first time all season.
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“Some people could have took that personally,” Odom said of coach Phil Jackson’s decision to replace him with Andrew Bynum in the midst of a losing streak. “It didn’t matter to me, honestly.”
Odom responded to his season debut as a reserve by scoring a team-leading 24 points, the most by a Lakers player coming off the bench since Tierre Brown scored 27 in February of 2005.
Odom hit a wide range of spots, even draining a casual, too-easy-looking 3-pointer as the horn sounded to end the third quarter.
Kobe Bryant added 20 points, Bynum scored 18 points, and Pau Gasol added 11 points and 12 rebounds as the Lakers snapped out of a funk in which they had lost by 15 or more points in their previous three games.
“We played much better. We executed much better. Our defense did an excellent job,” Bryant said. “Drew makes a big difference plugging up the middle, rebounding. He’s moving better. ... He seems to be more stable, more active.”
Odom had started all 31 of the Lakers’ previous games. Bynum, who had played a reserve role in his first seven games since returning from knee surgery, started for the first time this season.
“We had three losses, so we might as well do it now if we are going to do it,” Jackson said of the lineup shift that produced a dominant performance in New Orleans, where the Hornets had been 13-3 this season.
“One day we’re playing well and everybody is getting it going, and the next day we could be somebody’s little brother,” Hornets forward Trevor Ariza said.
Chris Paul had 20 points, and Marco Belinelli scored 15 for the Hornets.