SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn't so much the fact that Kobe Bryant scored 25 points mere hours after he signed a three-year contract extension reportedly worth more than $85 million that got under their skin.
And it wasn't even that Pau Gasol, with 14 points and 16 rebounds, finished just one assist shy of a triple-double.
Rather, what really appeared to bug the Jazz after a 106-92 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers late Friday was what Lamar Odom did to them.
"He always has good games against us, for some reason," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said of Odom, who more often than not this season has come off the bench for the Lakers but started Friday because center Andrew Bynum remains out with an Achilles tendon injury.
"He's just one of those guys," Williams added, "and we can't find an answer for him."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson suggested as much as well and while doing so even managed to seem to rub it in a bit.
"There were some offensive things that went well for him," Jackson said of Odom, who made 11-of-14 from the field, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range, en route to scoring a game-high and season-high 26 points — nine of which came during a critical fourth-quarter stretch in which L.A. put Utah away.
"This is a team we love to see him do well against," Jackson added. "Against this team he's always had success."
It's mostly true.
The big-and-long Odom had only seven points in each of the Lakers' first two games against the Jazz this season, but he scored 25 in L.A.'s Feb. 10 win at Utah.
He had one playoff game vs. Utah last postseason with a 21-point, 14-rebound double-double, and followed that up four nights later with a 26-point, 15-board, four-assist, three-block game against the Jazz.
Odom's playoff averages against the Jazz last season: 17.8 points, 11.0 rebounds in five games.
And two postseasons ago: 18.2 points, 11.7 rebounds.
Odom credited his success Friday to "getting to the hole, creating space on the 3-pointers."13 comments on this story
But why such dominance by someone averaging just 10.7 points this season and whose best scoring season with the Lakers has been one in which he averaged 15.9? Power forward Carlos Boozer, who started Friday night's game trying to guard Odom, has a theory.
It doesn't exactly explain why it's the Jazz in particular against whom Odom often thrives, but it is telling nonetheless. "He's great because he can make plays for himself and he can make plays for others," Boozer said. "He's got Kobe Bryant on one wing, Ron Artest on the other wing and Pau Gasol on the inside.
"So you really can't get on him," Boozer added, "because he's got all those stars around him, so he's in a position when he gets to go 1-on-1 and have freedom."