After Tuesday night’s win against the Brooklyn Nets, Mike D’Antoni is fully in charge of the Los Angeles Lakers. On Wednesday night, he travels to Sacramento to coach his first road game. It’s the second night of a back-to-back, and his top four players logged heavy minutes on the first night.
Veterans Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant all logged 39 minutes against Brooklyn. Dwight Howard, recovering from back surgery, played 41 minutes. To this point, Howard, Bryant, and Gasol all rank in the top 25 in minutes per game.
When asked about the wearing out his players, D’Antoni didn’t seem like he much cared, noting that everyone’s minutes will go down once the two Steve’s, Nash and Blake, return from injury. So, the four key starters should continue to log heavy minutes in Sacramento on Wednesday night.
One player who will not mind the extra minutes is Metta World Peace. He credits his recent form to his workouts and the tremendous shape he attained in the off-season.
His improvement in physique has translated to the court, and World Peace has scored in double figures eight games in a row. Considering World Peace averaged less than eight points a game last season, the improvement is impossible to ignore.
D’Antoni certainly took note, and he sent Metta a message early on. D’Antoni wants World Peace to take ten three-pointers every game.
“[Metta World Peace] should be wide open every time,” D’Antoni said after the win against Brooklyn. “Ten a game, and I told him he needs to make four out of ten every game. And he can do that. That’s 40 percent; that’s pretty good.”
Against the Nets, World Peace took nine three pointers, and he hit four of them. With Bryant, Howard, and Gasol attracting attention, World Peace should look to launch up ten more against Sacramento on Wednesday night.
D’Antoni brushed aside talk of World Peace’s dwindling point totals over the past few seasons. “He’s going to be at 17, 20 points,” the coach said with confidence on Tuesday night.
With World Peace going 4-8 from distance and scoring 18 points when these teams met two weeks ago, expect more of the same on Wednesday night in the state capital.
Notes: Steve Blake and Steve Nash are both still out, so Darius Morris should start again. He had a tough night against the Nets, and Chris Duhon came in and played well. Duhon actually played more minutes than Morris, and D’Antoni’s familiarity with Duhon may see him repeat that trend against the Kings.