Metta World Peace is averaging 13 points per game for the Lakers this season,… (Jared Wickerham / Getty…)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Metta World Peace was one of the early winners of Coach Mike D'Antoni's system.
He looked like he was 33 years young, averaging 14.2 points in December for the Lakers, seemingly saved from back-to-back seasons of slogging on offense.
But he has been in a shooting slump for the better part of a month, failing to make more than half his shots in a game since Jan. 8 (nine of 14 against Houston).
His three-point shot has failed him, which is bad for the Lakers. They need him.
"That's a big missing part right now," D'Antoni said. "It's not from lack of effort or trying. I'm sure he doesn't want to miss shots. He's just been going through a slump and hopefully he'll get out of that quickly."
It didn't happen Friday.
World Peace missed nine of 14 shots, including four from three-point range, in the Lakers' 100-93 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
He shot only 38.5% in January and was off to a ragged start this month, averaging 7.5 points on 26.1% shooting though four games.
In his last six games, World Peace has made six of 35 three-point attempts (17.1%).
"The threes haven't been [falling]," he said. "That's accurate. They're not. But one day they will."
D'Antoni has noticed World Peace hesitating outside the arc, turning an open shot into a difficult one with a hand in the face.
D'Antoni, however, will remain patient. There aren't many options behind him at small forward.
"You don't want to jerk him around at this point," D'Antoni said. "Just make sure that it is nothing that is caused by our coaching staff or whatever. People go through it and you've just got to hang in there with him until he gets through it."
Despite his recent struggles, World Peace is averaging 13 points this season, up from 7.7 a game last season and 8.5 the year before that.
D'Antoni couldn't wait to see what Steve Nash and Dwight Howard could do together on the court.
He's still waiting.
"The timing's not there," D'Antoni said. "Whether they need more time, I don't know. They're not clicking right now. We've got to keep working on it."
Nash and Howard rarely run successful pick-and-rolls with each other.
"That's a major part of what we do. I thought for sure that would be in the bank and that's easy and the rest of the stuff might be harder," D'Antoni said. "Well, that has not come through and that has hurt us."
Nash found Howard for an early layup and then a dunk against Charlotte, but the two didn't link up again after the first few minutes.
Howard took only seven shots, made four, and scored 12 points. He did not have a shot in the second half.