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Metta World Peace struggles with bench role

December 20, 2011 | 12:52 pm

Metta World PeaceHe may have changed his name. He may have changed his position. He may have even changed his role.

Regardless, Metta World Peace appeared in the Lakers' 114-95 preseason loss Monday to the Clippers with the same struggles he faced when he used to be Ron Artest.

But don't tell that to him. World Peace will tell you otherwise.

"I think I'm 100%," World Peace said. "I feel awesome. I feel really good. We obviously lost. But as far as grading how I feel? I feel awesome."

If World Peace were a teacher, he'd be charged guilty of grade inflation. The performance showed otherwise. He went zero for eight from the field, including zero for five from three-point range. He looked incredibly slow. And as far as leading the reserves, let's just say World Peace would've done a better service passing the ball considering every other bench player shot above 50%.

For now, Lakers Coach Mike Brown simply pleads for everyone to give World Peace a chance.

"He can play basketball the right way whether he comes off the bench or starts," Brown said. "I thought he had a couple of good looks. He rushed his shot a couple of times. One of his threes kind of went in and came out. I just wanted to keep trying to get him touches if we could so he could eventually get into a little bit of a rhythm."

Brown's positive reinforcement may help keep World Peace convinced that a bench role is more suited for him. He's immediately latched onto the idea, believing it's empowered him as a leader rather than viewing it as a demotion. World Peace certainly has a point that he's capable of bouncing back from poor statistical performances. But consider this just the beginning of a nail-biting exercise. Laker fans will continue to remain anxious whether World Peace is simply an ideal too difficult to achieve. But just like his acceptance of a bench role, World Peace remains adamant that improving will be "an easy adjustment" for one simple reason. 

"It's basketball," he said. "Basketball is fun."


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Photo: Lakers forward Metta World Peace, formerly Ron Artest, grabs a rebound over Clippers guard Chris Paul during the Clippers' exhibition victory Monday at Staples Center. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times /