The Lakers perimeter defense is a mess this season — Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and Jodie Meeks are not good defenders. Kobe Bryant can be but is prone to gambling. The result is Dwight Howard left trying to clean up too many messes.
Metta World Peace is the one guy the Lakers count on to alter that dynamic, plus he is really the only true small forward worth anything on the roster.
But the Lakers are going to have to be without him for a while.
World Peace tweaked his knee in the first half against Golden State (and sat out the second half). He had an MRI Tuesday and the news for the Lakers is not good, reports Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngeles.com.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ snake-bit season continued Tuesday with Metta World Peace receiving an MRI in Minneapolis on his left knee that showed a lateral meniscus tear.
World Peace will return to Los Angeles where he will be examined Wednesday by team doctor Steve Lombardo, forcing him to miss that night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
There is no timetable for his return yet. World Peace tweeted he hopes it will be a week and a half, but players tend to be optimistic about these things. People around the team expect it to be longer.
Look for Earl Clark to be back in the Lakers starting lineup until World Peace can play again. Coach Mike D’Antoni likely also will play around with a smaller lineup of Nash, Meeks and Kobe moving over to the three.
It comes at a bad time for a Lakers team that has lost three in a row and is just one game ahead of Utah for the final playoff spot in the West and 1.5 ahead of Dallas (heading into Tuesday night). The Lakers need wins and World Peace had been a reliable three-point shooter and defender for them in a season when little else has been dependable. The Lakers will miss him.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.