Jodie Meeks hasn't played significant minutes since Jan. 8 against… (Harry How / Getty Images )
TORONTO — Jodie Meeks is the most recent player to feel the cold, isolated part of the Lakers' bench.
Meeks was benched a second consecutive game by Coach Mike D'Antoni, failing to enter the Lakers' 108-103 loss Sunday to the Toronto Raptors.
"It's frustrating, but there's really nothing I can do about it," said Meeks, who is averaging 7.9 points and shooting only 37.8% in his first season with the Lakers. "My role is just to come in and make shots and play hard. Even if I'm not making shots, I still play hard every game. I feel that I bring a lot of energy to the team."
Meeks hasn't played significant minutes since logging 32 against Houston on Jan. 8. He then played a combined 28 minutes over the next four games before his two-game absence.
Second-year guard Darius Morris has sopped up Meeks' minutes because D'Antoni likes his defense.
Antawn Jamison was benched for six games and unhappy about it last month, saying D'Antoni never told him why he wasn't playing. D'Antoni spoke with Meeks, however.
"He said I wasn't doing anything wrong," Meeks said. "He just said to stay positive and he's going with the guy who's playing right now but it could change at any minute so just be ready."
Bryant defends Howard
Dwight Howard wasn't happy to be ejected from Sunday's game. Kobe Bryant didn't like it, either.
Howard was hit with a second technical foul after Raptors forward Alan Anderson made contact with him as the two went downcourt.
"I really don't agree with that one at all," Bryant said. "What's a player supposed to do? Guy is confronted trying to walk back up the court. The official told me, 'Well, he should just walk away.' I said, 'Which direction? Should he just turn around and walk toward the bench?' There's nothing he can do when a guy walks up to him and puts a forearm in his chest."
Steve Nash was flooded by reporters before the game, part of the Canadian's annual return to his native land.
"I'm on royalty watch," quipped a Canadian journalist stuck on the fringes of a large circle of reporters interviewing Nash.
Nash had 16 points and nine assists against Toronto. He considered signing with the Raptors last July but took less money to play for the Lakers.
Raptors fans didn't hold it against him. He was cheered loudly during pregame introductions.