Metta World Peace bored with defense
It turns out Metta World Peace's career-low scoring numbers have nothing to do with his poor shooting stroke. It turns out World Peace's declining defense has nothing to do with his age (32) and decreasing lateral quickness. It turns out World Peace's conditioning has nothing to do with arriving to training camp out of shape.
It has to do with one thing and one thing only.
"I got bored with defense because it was so easy for me to stop people over the years," World Peace said after Thursday's practice. "I just got bored with it."
That is, until the Lakers' 96-91 victory Wednesday over the Clippers where he played a large part in securing the win. World Peace made late-game plays, including a three-pointer that gave the Lakers an 87-82 lead, a feed that set up an Andrew Bynum dunk and a stuff on Chris Paul in the lane.
If the explanation sounds absurd, well it is. But the most unlikeliest of sources agrees with World Peace's logic.
"It's about finding an edge," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "You have to find an edge. It's not something that's far fetched. He's a great defensive player. Sometimes it comes too easy. Offensively for me, things are really easy sometimes. The game feels boring. You have to find an edge. You have to find something that is going to push you."
And for World Peace that involved making hustle plays that made his two steals, three points, five rebounds and seven assists in a season-high 38 minutes off the bench look even more impressive.
He rolled around the floor for a loose-ball with Clippers forward Blake Griffin, locked his legs around his head and almost caused a near skirmish. But the Lakers fed off the energy.
"He scared everybody when I saw his face turn," Lakers rookie guard Andrew Goudelock said. "He went from Metta World Peace back to Ron Artest. That's the Ron i like to see."
After connecting with Gasol on a kickout, World Peace looked so fiery that the even-tempered Gasol pushed him back in excitement.
"I loved the way he was handling things," Gasol said.
As Clippers forward Reggie Evans continiously pushed Gasol in the post, on drives and on rebounds, World Peace stepped in and stood up for his teammate.
"It was a clash," World Peace said. "It was like a conflict of interest."
Before, the only conflict of interest involved whether World Peace's name change meant he had to literally live up to it. Besides games where he operated in the post, World Peace struggled finding an offensive rhythm by shooting only 15.8% from the field. Even though his defensive instincts remain strong, World Peace's movement appeared so slow that removing his starting position hardly elicited concerns on why he's not guarding the opposing team's top player. And with the Lakers' reserves ranking near the bottom in the league in scoring, World Peace hardly provided much leadership Brown had envisioned.
A talk with Bryant before the Clippers' game helped change that.
"He just needs to be who he is," Bryant said. "We brought him in there for him being himself, so he just has to be himself."
Lately, being himself hardly pleased the Lakers and their fans. But at least for one night, the more physical, defensive and crowd-pleasing version of Ron Artest returned. Who knows if that will remain a one-time act.
"You're playing against guys and stopping guys every single time; what else are you going to do?" World Peace offered as an explanation on why he used to be bored. "It caaght up to me. This year, I'm doing better. This year, I'm almost back to where I want to be."
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