Tuesday, January 1, 10:30 PM (EST) at Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
14-17 (4th Atlantic, 9th East)
15-15 (3rd Pacific, 10th West)
TV: Comcast SportsNet Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic FM | Live Stats
MATCHUP TO WATCH
F Metta World Peace vs. G-F Evan Turner
Of all the top minute-getters on the front-heavy roster of the Los Angeles Lakers, none is more unassuming than the forward formerly known as Artest, Metta World Peace. While his days of consistently scoring 20 points a night are behind him, the 33-year-old is currently enjoying his best season as a Laker. Playing more minutes per game (34.8) than in any season since 2008-09 (35.5), World Peace is averaging 13.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, while providing his usual brand of hard-nosed defense. Standing 6-7 and weighing 260 pounds, he is one of the most physically imposing players in the NBA. When the Lakers and Sixers squared off at Wells Fargo Center on December 16, World Peace went off for 19 points (6-10 FG), 16 rebounds (five of them offensive), four steals, and two blocks.
Evan Turner will likely see a lot of World Peace, as the two match up physically on the perimeter. Turner plays a nagging brand of defense in his own right and will look to keep the World Peace off the glass Tuesday. When the two teams met on December 16, Turner logged 43 minutes; the game marked his sixth-straight with at least 40 minutes played. In the game, he notched 16 points (6-16 FG), six assists, and four rebounds. The 6-7, 220-pound swingman scored in double figures in 19 out of 20 contests from November 16 to December 23 – he scored just six points on December 19 against Houston, but played only 21 minutes because of a sprained left ankle. However, he's done so just one time in his last three games, scoring one point, 10 points, and four points, respectively. He's attempting just 8.3 shots per game over the stretch, compared to 13.6 per game over his 28 previous contests. Despite this lack of emphasis upon scoring, his contributions in all other areas of his game have been noticeable – in addition to his 5.0 points per game, he's averaging 5.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.7 steals in 36.1 minutes over his last three. With continued aggressive and heady play in the ancillary aspects of the game, minutes and, by virtue, offense will come to Turner.
Amazingly, Metta World Peace has attempted more three-pointers (176) than any other Laker this season, including NBA scoring leader Kobe Bryant (175). Perhaps more amazing is the fact that he's made just one fewer shot from behind the arc than Bryant this season. Although World Peace is not known for his prowess from long range, it's an aspect of his game that can be deadly when he's in rhythm. This season, he's attempting 5.9 threes per game, almost double the 3.0 per game he averaged last season. His 36.4% rate from that distance is his highest in four seasons as a Laker. When the Sixers and Lakers last met, World Peace hit three assisted three-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the game. The early offensive output seemed to energize the 14-year veteran, who also grabbed three offensive rebounds during that stretch. The game was undoubtedly his best of the season. In what was arguably his second-best outing this year, the story was all too similar – three first-quarter threes, two assisted and one a buzzer beater, en route to 22 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals on the night. Making World Peace work for his offense early in the game could help limit his effectiveness and energy throughout the game.
S. NASH | D. MORRIS | K. BRYANT | P. GASOL | D. HOWARD
The Lakers have scored in triple figures 23 times this season and have done so in 15 consecutive games games heading into Tuesday's contest. Los Angeles is fourth in the NBA in scoring (103.0 PPG) and features the league's scoring leader, Kobe Bryant (30.1 PPG). Bryant is shooting a career-high 47.8% from the field. As a unit, the Lakers' starters average the second-most points in the league (77.3 PPG).
Ringing In the New Year Right
After beginning the 2012-13 season 9-14, the Lakers have won five of their last six games. Possessing a 15-15 record, the Lakers will look to begin 2013 with a win that would put them above .500 for just the second time this season (6-5 on November 20).
After missing 24 games with a broken leg this season, floor general Steve Nash has played each of the Lakers' last four. Since returning, he's averaged 12.3 points (60.0 FG%, 57.1 3P%) and 9.5 assists. The addition of Nash has allowed head coach Mike D'Antoni to expand and alter his offensive game plan. He's put the ball in the hands of the 17-year veteran, utilizing his ability to play off of screen-roll to power an offense that features two All-Star quality bigs in Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard.