Lakers shuffle the lineup again: Hill to start

November, 12, 2013
11/12/13
12:34
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- After giving up 47 first-quarter points in their loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, Mike D'Antoni is hoping to have his team ready from the jump by starting Jordan Hill against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

"I’m going to look at Jordan Hill and see if we can start off with his energy," D'Antoni said after shootaround Tuesday. "I hate to lose it off the bench, but then again, right now the blanket is a little short. We’re trying to figure out how to make the blanket a little bit longer."

Hill, averaging 6.3 points and 6.6 rebounds in 16.1 minutes while ranking fourth in the NBA by grabbing 21 percent of the total rebounds available when he's on the floor, has been an important cog for the Lakers' reserves that average a league-leading 51.5 points per game.

"Same old, same old," said Hill. "Nothing new. Just do the same thing I do all the time."

Hill started one game in each of the last two seasons for the Lakers after being acquired at the trade deadline from the Houston Rockets in 2012.

D'Antoni confirmed that Jodie Meeks will start in place of the injured Steve Nash (back). It will be the Lakers' sixth different starting lineup through their first nine games.

Hill was diagnosed with a bone bruise in his right knee last week, but has performed well since then, grabbing 13 rebounds in 22 minutes in New Orleans and nine rebounds in 19 minutes against Minnesota.

Pau Gasol told reporters Monday that he preferred the Lakers stayed with a bigger lineup when informed D'Antoni was considering making another change. Hill was happy to be playing alongside Gasol.

"I love playing with Pau," Hill said. "I'll definitely keep my eyes open and expect a pass from him. He's a great rebounder (also), so we definitely should be on the boards a lot more."

L.A. has been outrebounded by an average of 48.4 to 45.8 through their 3-5 start to the season.

D'Antoni said that he expects Hill to adjust fine to the change.

"It shouldn’t be any difference," D'Antoni said. "He plays full out, full bore, [with] energy. Again, you hate to lose that little spark we’ve got, that’s been the best thing we’ve had [off the bench], but we got to figure out a way to start games too with energy. So we’ll look at it, evaluate it and hopefully it will work. But again, everybody has got to step up. Everybody has got to play harder, everybody has got to be mentally tougher."

Hill said L.A. needs to stop overlooking its opponents too. Prime example, the Pelicans might be 3-4, but they beat L.A. 96-85 last week.

"When we play a team that people don’t expect us to win, we just want to go out there and work much harder," Hill said, referring to the Lakers' victories against the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets. "When we play a team that we expect to win, it’s kind of lackadaisical and we just want to go out there and compete with them with the same energy that they do and we’re not good enough for that."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
26.7 4.2 1.3 35.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 10.0
AssistsJ. Lin 4.9
StealsR. Price 1.3
BlocksE. Davis 1.4