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A focused Metta World Peace is getting the looks

A slimmed-down and more mobile Metta World Peace finds himself in a good place during the exhibition season, filling gaps in an injury-hobbled Lakers lineup.

October 12, 2012|By Mark Medina

Just as he caught an entry pass inside, Metta World Peace slipped.

He looked out of position. It appeared World Peace would fall or commit a turnover. It seemed like another example of his unpredictable play turning for the worse.

That didn't happen. World Peace regained his balance. He performed a spin move into the lane. World Peace then finished the acrobatic play with an open layup.

The Lakers aren't reading much into their 93-75 preseason loss Wednesday to the Portland Trail Blazers at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. They aren't sweating their 0-2 preseason record, either. The Lakers care more about the players' development.

When it comes to World Peace, he views his 12-point performance on six-of-10 shooting with five rebounds, three assists and one steal in two ways. World Peace's off-season conditioning where he lost 17 pounds enabled him to appear more mobile. Likewise, it's helped him overcome initial mistakes, such as when he nearly lost his balance in the post.

"When you're in shape, there's looks," World Peace said. "When you're good, there are looks."

There seemed plenty of looks for World Peace against Portland.

Part of it seemed by design.

Kobe Bryant sat out of because of a strained right shoulder. Dwight Howard missed his second consecutive preseason game as he continues rehabbing from back surgery. Reserve forward Jordan Hill didn't travel with the team because of a herniated disk that will keep him out for at least a week. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol scored eight points on only three-of-eight shooting despite Steve Nash setting him up for plenty of looks.

Part of World Peace's production reflected his sharp focus and aggressiveness.

He forced Portland to commit a turnover on an inbounds play. On one play, World Peace also drove on the fast break and set up Gasol for a layup. On another, World Peace went one on one, switched hands and then drove into the lane for an easy bucket. World Peace offered a similar presence in the Lakers' preseason loss Sunday to Golden State where he scored 10 points on three-of-six shooting.

"This is an equal opportunity offense," Brown said. "So Metta is going to get some touches and some looks. Metta will get enough touches in the regular season."

As with most things regarding World Peace, though, his play against Portland also included a few blemishes.

"He had a few turnovers [two] and he's still trying to get a feel for what we're trying to do offensively," Brown said. "I thought defensively early on he gambled, which caused us to give up a couple of buckets."

When told of that critique, World Peace immediately owned up by saying, "Most of the defensive problems in the first half were my fault."

But just as he rectified his conditioning this offseason, World Peace soon corrected his on-court mistakes against Portland.

"He locked down the right way," Brown said. "He helped us get some big stops as the game went along."

Once it ended, World Peace couldn't help but reflect on this past offseason. At the time during a workout at UCLA in July, World Peace envisioned he'd play with more speed, post efficiency and defensive intensity. Through two preseason games, World Peace has already shown that on the floor.

"I put in that work," he said. "I just want to when I get the opportunity show people that I can play. Don't think I'm out here just to be out here. I'm out here because I'm going."

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