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Painful Win

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How much has Lamar Odom meant to the Lakers this season? Look at it this way, he was playing more minutes per game than Kobe Bryant.

If one guy deserved an injury-free season after everything he’s been through it is Odom. But the Lakers are going to have to get by without his minutes for at least the next four weeks as he suffered a “moderate” sprain of the MCL in his right knee.

It’s plenty serious for a Laker team that has a tough rest of the month ahead of it, including a match up with Dallas tonight (6:30 on KCAL 9 or ESPN, pick your poison) and 22 of the next 32 on the road. Tonight is the kind of game where Odom would have been asked to play a big role, defending Dirk Nowitzki, who may be the league’s best player despite his affinity for David Hasselhoff music.

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It seems like just yesterday this blogger was touting the Lakers depth, and now it will be put to the test. Look for the trio of Vladamir Radmanovic, Brian Cook and Ronny Turiaf to be filling in for Lamar by committee. Also the Lakers may “go small” more with Walton as the power forward and Kobe and Mo Evans on the wings. Matchups will determine who gets the court time — for example, tonight the smart money is on Turiaf, the best defender of the group, to get plenty of time trying to slow Dirk.

On the bright side, the Lakers played all but two minutes of the game against the Rockets Tuesday without Odom and still won. Well, the good news is they led by 27 early in the fourth quarter, I seem to have repressed the memory of what happened after that.

AP Photo by Mark J. Terrill