Metta World Peace started both halves of last night’s win over Charlotte on the bench. Devin Ebanks, who only played five minutes, started the game, and Jodie Meeks was placed in the starting lineup in the second half. Meeks played nearly 40 minutes and scored 17 points, grabbed 3 rebounds, and dished out 2 assists. Meeks had a key three-pointer from the corner that tied the game with about 10:20 left in the fourth quarter. World Peace, who despite coming off the bench, played starter minutes (36) and had 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals.
After last night’s game, Mike D’Antoni said he likes Meeks hustle on both ends of the court and is considering starting him opposite Kobe Bryant on the wing. It’s not that D’Antoni hasn’t been satisfied with the play of World Peace, it’s that he wants MWP to see more time at the four spot and for Pau Gasol to play concurrently at center. Unfortunately, this strategy means depreciated minutes for players like Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill, who both watched the entirety of last night’s game from the bench.
“I hate it for Jordan Hill right now, because he’s the odd man out. He doesn’t deserve it, he’s played well. He’s a good player, but for us to have a different team, a different look, Metta has to play the four. If he starts at the three, then once I get him to the four, it’s too many minutes for him, he needs rest." said Mike D'Antoni in his post-game news conference.
Jodie Meeks playing on the wing will open up more space for Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard to work. Meeks is a threat from the outside which will force defenders out to the perimeter. He is averaging 39% from the outside, which is highest on the Lakers for players attempting three or more three-point shots per game. Meeks’ open looks from three point land will increase as Gasol, the best passing big man in the league, returns to the lineup. World Peace is known for his defensive prowess but Meeks’ hustle on defense means the Lakers won’t miss Metta’s lock-down coverage as much.
Mike D’Antoni and the Los Angeles Lakers continue to figure out their offense and find the lineup that best-fits that offense. Meeks 17 points off the bench was key in last night’s win over the Bobcats and D’Antoni is relying on similar production from the third-year guard as he will be inserted to the starting lineup indefinitely. Watch for the adjustment Metta World Peace will make off the bench as he sees increased time at the power forward position.
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