Metta World Peace feeling, playing better

March, 17, 2013
3/17/13
10:36
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Injuries have been the story of the Los Angeles Lakers' season as much as anything, from Dwight Howard's back and shoulder to Pau Gasol's knees and foot to Jordan Hill's hip, Steve Nash's leg, Steve Blake's groin and now Kobe Bryant's ankle.

And there was another injury that went unreported and hampered L.A., as well.

After scoring 22 points on 10-for-13 shooting against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, Metta World Peace revealed he had been playing through a right leg injury for more than two months.

"I popped something in my fibula, but it didn't tear," World Peace said, saying he suffered the injury when the Lakers hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 11.

World Peace said he took a charge on San Antonio's Tiago Splitter on Jan. 9 and got kneed in the pelvic region, which led to the leg injury in his next game.

"Messed up my alignment," World Peace said. "Most injuries come from when your pelvis is not aligned. People don't know that."

The injury, combined with an injury to his right arm around the same time that made it difficult to bend his elbow, prevented him from doing his normal in-season weight lifting routine.

"I had to sacrifice some of my exercises, some of my strength and conditioning," World Peace said. "I couldn't do as much, so then I was getting weaker a little bit. I was getting weaker throughout the season.”

“As I got healthy, then I was able to get back,” he said. “Now I'm able to lift again and do my exercises and agility and stuff. Now I'm able to guard guys again. I'm moving my feet well, and I have a lot of strength down low."

It was so bad that Mike D'Antoni didn't feel comfortable putting World Peace on the opposing team's best wing scorer anymore -- his bread and butter. Instead the Lakers coach moved him to big man defensive duties.

"I thought he was really having trouble guarding perimeter guys and that's why I kind of moved him to the 4,” D'Antoni said, “but now he's guarding perimeter guys fine.”

Prior to the string of injuries, World Peace had scored 20 or more points in four out of nine games and was finding a consistent role in the offense.

"If you look back at that Houston game [before it] and the San Antonio game, I was getting to the hole," World Peace said. "If you look back at that game, I was getting to the hole anytime I wanted, going coast to coast. After that game, it was kind of downhill and I started to miss layups. And when I started to miss layups, I had to resort to shooting 3s."

It took a while to get back to form, but World Peace is clicking once again. He estimated he is 98 percent better. He has scored in double digits in eight of the Lakers' nine games in the month of March.

"I'm moving now again," World Peace said.

It's showing on both ends of the court.

"He's playing a very high level defensively," D'Antoni said. "If he can do that, then when Pau [Gasol] comes back, that's really going to help a lot with him being able to guard the perimeter."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
24.6 4.9 1.4 35.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.3
AssistsK. Bryant 4.9
StealsK. Bryant 1.4
BlocksE. Davis 1.2