Meeks’ Career Day Leads Lakers to Victory

meeks42With the Lakers trailing Oklahoma City 65-53 with 8:59 left in the third quarter of Sunday’s game, Jodie Meeks drained the first of his four three-pointers in the quarter 16 seconds later. He followed that up with a reverse layup, a steal and then another three-pointer.

By the end of the quarter, Meeks had outscored OKC 20 to 19 by himself, and keyed L.A.’s turnaround that allowed them to take an 87-75 lead heading to the fourth. The Lakers would eventually hold on to defeat the Thunder 114-110, in large part due to Meeks’ career performance.

“I got to the free throw line in the second half to get me going and knocked down a couple shots,” Meeks said, “That’s really all it takes when you’re in a rhythm like that.”

Meeks finished with a career-high 42 points – 24 in the second half – on 11 of 16 field goals, 6 of 11 three-pointers and 14 of 14 free throws. It was the most points scored by a Laker since Kobe Bryant tallied 47 points at Portland on Apr. 10, 2013. The 40-point outing was also the first by a Laker other than Bryant since Andrew Bynum scored 42 at Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 21, 2009.

*Below is a shot chart of Meeks’ efficiency from the floor against Oklahoma City, courtesy of NBA.com/stats.
meeks_thunder

More than just his offensive output, Meeks guarded Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook on the defensive end for much of the night and helped force him into a 7 for 23 shooting night (2 of 10 on three-pointers) plus eight turnovers.

“Defensively he was out of sight and on Russell Westbrook the whole time,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He put out a lot of energy this game, but he has been doing it on a pretty consistent basis.”

This season, Meeks is averaging career highs across the board in points (14.8), rebounds (2.6), assists (1.7), steals (1.3), field-goal percentage (46.3), three-point field goal percentage (39.9) and minutes (32.7). In particular, he is converting at a higher rate at the rim: 60.7 percent from less than five feet compared to 50.4 percent in 2012-13, according to NBA.com/stats.

Since the All-Star break, Meeks has upped his production further, averaging 19.1 points on 51.4 percent field goals. He’s shot at least 50.0 percent in seven of 11 games, including an 8 for 8 performance against Sacramento on Feb. 28.

*Below is a shot chart of his efficiency from the floor since the All-Star break, courtesy of NBA.com/stats.
meeks_post_allstarbreak

“Jodie has been our most consistent performer,” D’Antoni said. “He is just playing well. It’s really fun to watch someone get better and he has improved. Jodie comes to work every day and does what he needs to do. He had a great summer working hard on his game and you really feel good about guys like that.”