With each shot that dropped into the basket, Jodie Meeks’ confidence considerably increased.
So much that at one point, Meeks told a certain prominent teammate he wanted to take another one.
“He told Kobe, ‘You get out the way, I got this one,” Lakers forward Antawn Jamison said, laughing.
The Black Mamba obliged. After all, Meeks eventually dropped a season-high 21 points on a seven of eight clip from three-point range in the Lakers’ 122-103 victory Friday over the Denver Nuggets. His numbers played a large part in the Lakers tying a franchise record for most three-pointers made in a game (17). And hardly anything appeared to get in Meeks’ way.
There’s a simple reason.
Meeks feels plenty comfortable playing under Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced system where he’s continuously encouraged to shoot.
“With the consistent minutes that I’m getting, I’m playing with more confidence,” said Meeks, who arrives early and stays late to work on his shot. “Coach D’Antoni gives not only myself but the whole team confidence to shoot when you’re open and to play hard.”
For Meeks, that’s paid off in a huge way and validated why the Lakers signed him this offseason to a two-year, $3 million deal. The Lakers (8-8) may enter tonight’s game against the Orlando Magic (5-10) at Staples Center with only a 3-3 mark under D’Antoni. But he’s immediately helped bolster Meeks’ bench contributions. In those six games, Meeks has shot 15 of 29 from three point range, cracked double figures three times and averaged 12 minutes per game. Under former coach Mike Brown, Meeks went two of five from the field in three games and sat out completely in the other two.
Against Denver, it didn’t seem like Meeks would miss. He made his first five attempts from outside. Teammates routinely looked for him as he cut off the ball. Eventually, Lakers center Dwight Howard jumped off the bench and counted on his fingers how many baskets Meeks made following each shot.
“You guys heard the saying that D’Antoni has ball finds energy,” Howard said. “When we have a lot of energy, the ball finds us and finds the net. Tonight I thought Jodie was going to hit 10 threes.”
Instead, that might just be a preview of more to come.
“When you’re shooting like that, you feel like every shot you throw up, you’re going to hit,” Meeks said. “It’s a great feeling to have. Hopefully it continues.”
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