SACRAMENTO — The casualty surrounding Metta World Peace’s likely season-ending left knee injury goes beyond the obvious defensive presence. The Lakers also lose one of their dependable scorers.
Jodie Meeks has started at shooting guard the past two games, averaging eight points but on only 6-of-19 shooting. In the Lakers’ loss Thursday to Milwaukee, Meeks missed consecutive layups on fastbreaks, prompting laughs on the Lakers’ bench.
“I’m doing a pretty good job, but I have to play a little better,” Meeks said. “Just shoot better and take good shots. A couple went in and out. Some were rushed.”
Regardless, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni will stick with Meeks as the team’s starting shooting guard tonight against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant will play at small forward.
“Unless you come up with a better idea,” D’Antoni siad, laughing. That’s what I’ll do. Jodie is playing as hard as he can play. He hasn’t knocked down a lot of shots. But he played well against Minnesota. I think he’s playing okay. That’s not a problem. That’s probably No. 99 on the list out of 100 [problems].”
Meeks appreciated D’Antoni’s support.
“That gives me a lot of confidence,” Meeks said. “He says to shoot when you’re open and just take good shots. If you miss, don’t worry about it.”
The Lakers have more pressing concerns.
The Utah Jazz (37-36) currently has the eighth playoff spot over the Lakers (37-36) since it leads the regular-season series. The Lakers aging backcourt has injuries to monitor in Kobe Bryant (bone spurs in left foot, sprained left ankle) and Steve Nash (right hip spasm). Assuming their season even lasts that long, the Lakers also will play without World Peace for at least six weeks because of a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee that required surgery.
“I need to just bring some energy. Metta’s whoel game is energy,” Meeks said. “For me, I try to do that with the first an second team.”
And that includes not wavering on his poor shooting streak thus far.
“That’s one thing I never worry about is my shooting,” Meeks said. “I’ll just keep shooting. They’ll fall eventually.”
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