Like a perfectly functioning carburetor on an engine that's otherwise shot, there is one part of the Lakers that continues to hum: their three-point shooting.
Kendall Marshall and Jordan Farmar both ranked among the top six in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage before Tuesday, a big reason the Lakers' 38.3% accuracy from behind the arc was tied with the Washington Wizards for second best in the league.
Only the San Antonio Spurs, who were making 39% of their three-pointers, had a higher percentage.
"We're having guys that are shooting the ball well right now," Coach Mike D'Antoni said before his team played the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center. "Hopefully, it's a product of the floor being open and getting space and room and then Jodie [Meeks] and company can make some shots."
The Lakers recently experienced an uncanny uptick in long-distance shooting, largely a result of their making a franchise regulation-game record 19 of 27 (70.4%) three-pointers Friday against the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers also once made 19 threes in an overtime game in December 2006 against the Washington Wizards.
Marshall's unorthodox form, in which he pushes the ball toward the rim, probably will never appear in any shooting manuals, but he's been the team's best shooter since being plucked from the Development League in December. He was shooting 44.8% from beyond the arc, the fifth-best percentage in the league.
Farmar was only a few ticks behind at 44.6% after his eight-for-10 performance on three-pointers against the Kings.
Newcomer MarShon Brooks had made eight of nine (88.9%) three-pointers, though he had not hoisted nearly enough shots to qualify as a league leader.
Six other Lakers were also above the widely used 33.3% benchmark for success as a three-point shooter: Kent Bazemore (46.2%), Meeks (39.9%), Wesley Johnson (38.5%), Nick Young (35.2%), Xavier Henry (33.9%) and Ryan Kelly (33.8%).
D'Antoni seemed to have slightly higher standards.
"A good three-point shooter shoots in the 40s, and a couple of them are doing it right now," D'Antoni said. "Hopefully they can stick there."
Not waiting for them
D'Antoni sounded like he had moved on from expecting injured veterans Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash to play again this season, though he said the decision would ultimately be up to the players and team medical personnel.
"I'm just surmising that as we get further into the year, it's like, really, they want to play?" D'Antoni said. "I don't think anything definitive has been decided and we'll keep working with Gary [Vitti] and the trainers and keep seeing how their body is and the medical staff will make a decision."
D'Antoni said he wasn't waiting for Bryant and Nash to implement his plan for the season's final 22 games.
"We're on a different track," D'Antoni said. "We're trying to evaluate guys and get them in the right spot and improve them and that way the front office can make good decisions on guys."
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