HOUSTON — So, it turns out that Lakers coach Phil Jackson was not alone in thinking the team might benefit if Luke Walton rejoined the second unit in the wake of Lamar Odom’s one-game suspension. Walton went to Jackson on Tuesday and suggested moving to a reserve role for tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets.
His rationale: the backups, better known as the Bench Mob, had been stagnant offensively lately and with Walton joining them, they would have one more playmaker on the court. Jackson agreed, starting Trevor Ariza in place of Walton at small forward.
Ariza and Walton each scored eight points in the Lakers’ 102-96 victory tonight over the Rockets at the Toyota Center. Ariza also had six rebounds and three assists in a little less than 30 minutes and Walton had five rebounds and two assists in a little more than 23 minutes.
Odom is eligible to return to the starting lineup for Thursday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, and Powell is expected to return to the bench. Ariza probably will start again and Walton will join Powell in the second unit.