Lamar Odom will start for suspended forward Ron Artest as the Los Angeles Lakers face a must-win situation in Game 3 against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. The Lakers dropped the first two games of the series in L.A., giving Dallas a huge advantage. The Lakers need to win four of five games (three of which will be in Dallas) to win the series.
Artest was suspended for one game after clotheslining diminituive Mavericks guard J.J. Barea in the closing seconds of Game 2 on Wednesday. The Mavericks were ahead by double-digits, and there seemed to be no reason for Artest's blow.
Odom started 35 games this season, but none at small forward. Andrew Bynum spent the first two months of the season on ice after having offseason knee surgery, and Odom filled in at power forward, next to Pau Gasol. When Bynum returned, Odom returned to the bench. He won the Sixth Man of the Year award.
The frontline of Bynum, Gasol and Odom have hardly played together this season, with Artest, Matt Barnes and Kobe Bryant manning small forward and Odom rounding out the three-man big rotation. Odom at small forward should be a fairly normal match-up; Shawn Marion is Dallas' current starting small forward despite playing much of his career at power forward.
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