In the Lakers' first two playoff games, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest have been the most valuable contributors alongside Kobe Bryant
Ron Artest has been the same over his brief Laker career. A brilliant defensive stop will be followed by a questionable shot that makes fans groan.
Both deserve their share of blame being inconsistent. But after their first two games against New Orleans, they also deserve plenty of praise for raising their game at the right time.
Odom scored 10 points with only one rebound in Game 1 but the day after winning Sixth Man of the Year, he upped it to 16 and seven in Game 2.
With Pau Gasol still struggling to find his offense, Odom once again did what he’s done all season. Spark the team, be aggressive and step up when asked to.
It’s something he’s done in spurts during his decade-plus in the league, earning him the label of a chronic underachiever and one of the best NBA players to never make an All-Star team.
But when he settled into his role and decided to excel instead of complain, the recognition finally came around. You could argue he was the second Laker worthy of the All-Star Game instead of Gasol after his first half performance.
Despite filming his reality TV show, he still produced during the Lakers 17-1 stretch after the All-Star Game while leading the revamped Lakers bench as one of the most productive in the league.
Now after being named the league’s top reserve, it further validates that this has been the best season of his career at a time where he’s found happiness in his personal life with his marriage.
For Artest, the great stretch of postseason play goes back to the NBA Finals against Boston. He scored 15 points in Game 6 and then everyone remembers his Game 7 heroics: 20 points, the clutch 3-pointer to ice the game and the memorable postgame press conference.
Against New Orleans, he had a double-double in Game 1 (16 points and a team-high 11 rebounds). He kept it going in Game 2 with 15 points and continuing to be aggressive on both sides of the ball.
It’s been a great road back in general for Artest, who’s put the Malice at the Palace far back in his rear view mirror while becoming a fan favorite and public advocate for mental health awareness. He may cause headaches but so far he's outplaying the man he was essentially exchanged for, Trevor Ariza.
Just call them the NBA’s version of Entourage, the hit HBO show about lifelong friends from Queens making it in Hollywood. Odom and Artest have gone from playing on the same AAU team as teenagers to being the most visible Lakers around town.
Yet their increased profile hasn’t distracted them from the mission at hand. No matter how many folks become fans of Odom’s show with wife Khloe Kardashian or how often Artest tweets something only he could think of, they both have shown their commitment to winning a third straight NBA title for the franchise.
As the Lakers’ first-round series move to New Orleans, it’s Odom and Artest who will play key roles in determining if the Lakers leave the Big Easy tied or up 3-1. They’ve benefited from home cooking and now it’s time to show up on the road.
It’s been a great start for the Queensbridge duo and now the road awaits their next act.