About Jill Painter

Jill Painter is a sports columnist for the Los Angeles News Group, covering everything from the Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, USC, UCLA, Kings, golf and all human interest stories in sports.

Hail to the … defense?

Defense wins championships
Mike D’Antoni’s teams have never been known for their defense, and it shows, but he thinks you’ll see an improved Lakers defense over the final month.
“I don’t think Pau was 100 percent earlier in the year. That alone will help,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t think Metta (World Peace) was 100 percent. He was having trouble guarding guys on the perimeter.
“So we had a lot of breakdowns and stuff that wasn’t going. I think they’ve kind of corrected themselves lately. Pau has to get back to (game) condition, but Metta’s good on the perimeter and Dwight’s patrolling the middle, so we should be very good defensively.”
World Peace revealed recently that earlier in the season he popped something in his right fibula, but that it didn’t tear. He was struggling, but he didn’t reveal the injury until earlier this week, saying he didn’t want to make excuses.

Dwight’s injury update…

Dwight Howard’s right shoulder was examined this afternoon, and he has been cleared to play. Howard
aggravated his right shoulder in last night’s game against Memphis. He was examined in L.A.
by shoulder specialist Dr. James Tibone and there was no further damage, according to the Lakers.
He’s cleared to play Friday against the Jazz at Staples Center.