Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 3/28/12
Khloelamar
DALLAS The injury-ravaged Houston Rockets delivered a haymaker to the Dallas Mavericks in the first quarter. The Mavs starters didn't belong on the same floor with Luis Scola and Goran Dragic, so coach Rick Carlisle did the logical thing and turned the game over to his reserves. None other than Lamar Odom no really ignited a rally that allowed the Mavs (29-22) to overcome a 16-point deficit in the first quarter and eventually cruise to a 90-81 win. To be sure, this is not the recipe for playoff success. You can't allow Scola, Dragic and Chandler Parsons to shred your defense for a 30-19 lead at the end of the first quarter. But a funny thing happened when Odom, who received a "DNP" Friday in San Antonio, checked into the game with 5:22 remaining in the first quarter. For one night, he appeared to have an interest in pursuing a career in basketball. With the Mavs trailing 21-8, Odom blocked Parsons' layup attempt and later swooped in to finish at the rim. He played with an energy that has been largely missing this season, which drew heavy applause from one of the most forgiving fan bases in the country. Odom finished with nine points (4-of-5), four rebounds and three assists. It normally takes him at least three games to reach that total, so he was a popular topic after the game. "I like the way he played tonight, and this is a great step in the right direction," said Carlisle, who admitted his patience had worn thin with Odom in the aftermath of his 10-day sabbatical from basketball. "This is how he plays. I've said all along we believe in the guy. Fifteen games doesn't sound like a long time, but in this particular case it's almost a quarter of a season. It's a long time and there's a long way to go, but it's obvious that we need him and everybody else." Odom donned a headband for the first time in years. A former teammate reminded him before the game that he'd wore one with the Clippers his rookie season, so he decided to give it a whirl. He warmed up in it and then sank a shot off the glass from midcourt 30 minutes before the game. Perhaps it was a good sign for the mercurial player who constantly refers to himself as a "sportsman" during interviews. He was greeted with a smattering of boos Tuesday upon taking the court, but the American Airlines Center faithful quickly changed its tune. "I'm finally getting to the point where I get my second wind," said Odom. "I finally feel like I'm getting my legs under me." The Mavs have been extremely patient with Odom on the off chance he could actually provide a spark down the stretch. But it's wrong to make any sweeping judgments about Odom's effort against the Rockets because we've seen flashes of this in the past. The Mavs also got a big lift from guard Roddy Beaubois who had seven of his 14 points in the second quarter. Beaubois infused the team with energy and overwhelmed Rockets veteran guard Earl Boykins, still one of the most stunning sights in the league at 5 feet, 5 inches. Beaubois slashed through the lane for two layups to trim the Rockets lead to 34-25 early in the second quarter. The Mavs closed the quarter with a 10-2 run to pull within 49-46 at halftime. Rockets forward Luis Scola had 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the first half, but the Mavs used double teams to slow him down considerably in the second half. Scola was indecisive with the ball and had three turnovers in the third quarter alone. Dragic had nine points and five assists in the first half, but Shawn Marion did a superb job on him in the second half. The Mavs' bench had a 48-17 scoring edge over the Rockets, including 13 from center Brandan Wright, who is becoming automatic near the rim. "We mixed up the coverage on Scola," said Wright. "He didn't know what was coming. When we get a lead, we're in good shape. They went with that small lineup, and we like seeing that." The Mavs now return to the scene of their greatest triumph for a game against the Heat on Thursday. Jason Terry said he "definitely" planned to wear his NBA title ring into the arena, but Dirk Nowitzki said he'd be leaving his at home. Nowitzki said he wore his ring to the symphony once because he wanted to have some "swag," but that's about it. The Mavs will play at Orlando on Friday before returning home to face the Clippers on Monday. That's why Tuesday's win was so big for the Mavs. Now, everyone will wait to see which Odom shows up in Miami. At this point, back-to-back solid games would represent a major breakthrough. But on Tuesday evening, he was just glad to keep the boo birds at bay. "That's a really good feeling," Odom said. "Even when I checked into the game it was a little different tonight and I think they kind of understand me and where I'm coming from and what I want to do. And nobody wants it as bad as me." OK, let's not get ahead ourselves, Lamar.
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