Los Angeles Lakers Stat Monkey Brief: Lakers/Pacers (11/27/12)
Coming off their first road win of the season, the Lakers return home to the friendly confines of Staples Center to face the Indiana Pacers Tuesday Night. The dichotomy of these two teams should make any basketball enthusiast giddy: a Mike D'Antoni-led Lakers squad who seem to be getting the hang of his uptempo system versus the gritty, defensive-minded Pacers team modeled by head coach Frank Vogel. There are many individual match-ups to love in this game as well. How will Dwight Howard fare against block-machine Roy Hibbert? Or will Pau Gasol's knees hold up against a quicker and stronger David West? However, the most intriguing head-to-head is an offensively-resurrected Metta World Peace facing off against second-year stud forward Paul George. Look for the former Ron Artest's offensive assertiveness and the Lakers' overall efficiency in offensive to be major keys in tonight's ball game in Tinseltown.
Metta in his Prime?
Don't look now, but Metta World Peace is playing at an all-star level. Usually when a former all-star gets older, his game changes tremendously. The legs begin to tire, quickness decreases, and he loses that explosion that he once had playing in his prime. However, for Metta World Peace, it seems the exact opposite is happening. Metta's points per/game and field goal percentage are the highest totals he's posted in the last five years (14.5 ppg and 43.6%) and even his free throwing shooting at 80% is the best in his career. What's remarkable is how much Metta has improved from beyond the arc. He makes nearly 2.5 three pointers a game, and hitting them at an effective field-goal rate of 55%, both career-best totals. The most important thing, however, is his improved-offensive game is leading to Laker wins (his win shares/48 minutes rank third on the team and the highest in his last nine years).
Good Team Ball
The Pacers are indeed a defensive-minded team. Their defensive rating and defensive rebound percentage both rank second in the NBA at 100.2 and 75.3% respectively. Plus at a 44% mark, their effective field goal defense leads the league. However, if you delve into the Pacers' losses this year, the opponents who came out victorious didn't turn the ball over. In fact, that's seemingly their only defensive flaw, ranking dead last in the NBA in defensive turnover percentage. So for the Lakers to win this game, they'll need to improve their offensive turnover percentage (that ranks 28th in the NBA) and get a quality shot every time they come down the court. And despite their willingness this season to turn the ball over, the Lakers still shoot effectively from the field (sixth in the NBA) and get to the free throw line frequently (first in the NBA). Thus, if the Lakers continue to ride Metta's hot hand, while not comprising their efficient-overall play on offense, and don't commit turnovers, they should come out on top tonight against Indiana.