New reserves Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks not wowing as hoped
Antawn Jamison was brought in to score but has scrimped.
Jodie Meeks was brought in to shoot but has sat.
Little has gone as planned for the Lakers or their top two new reserves, who have struggled to make much of an impact in the season’s early going.
Jamison and Meeks were supposed to bolster a bench that ranked last in the NBA last season in points scored.
Perhaps the best reflection of their play is that the Lakers now rank No. 29 in the league in bench scoring with 18.8 points per game, ahead of only Portland.
Hey, it’s progress, though not exactly the kind the Lakers had envisioned. Their reserves have been outscored, 148-75, by their counterparts.
Jamison has averaged 4.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in 16.8 minutes per game, far off his career averages of 19.5 points and 7.8 rebounds. The 15-year veteran wasn’t expected to replicate the production from earlier in his career when he was a mainstay in the starting lineup, but the Lakers certainly would like him to boost his scoring output closer to double figures.
“You know, I’ve been hearing it. ‘You gotta be aggressive. You gotta be aggressive,’” Jamison said after scoring six points Sunday during the Lakers’ 108-79 victory over the Detroit Pistons, “but I’m just going to stay within the flow of the offense.”
So the coaching staff has been pushing him to be more assertive?
“It’s my kids, my mom,” Jamison said. “Nah, the coaches, they know what they want me to do. Coach has tried to get me on the box a little bit more in the past game or two. It’s going to take time.”
It’s apparently going to take even longer for Meeks, who has been pushed toward the end of the bench with Coach Mike Brown designating Devin Ebanks as Kobe Bryant’s primary backup at shooting guard for the next few weeks.
A bad sign for Meeks: He played only four minutes against Detroit, and that was with the Lakers holding leads as large as 36 points.
“It’s disappointing because everyone wants to play,” said Meeks, who has made two of seven shots, including two of five from three-point range, and is averaging 2.0 points in 7.3 minutes per game. “But there’s really nothing I can do. Right now it’s just out of my control and his decision.”
If nothing else, Meeks is making an impression in practice. He was the last player to leave the court Monday, sprinting to different spots on the court to spot up for jumpers long after his teammates had disappeared into the back rooms of their training facility.
You’ll probably be able to call Dwight Howard an All-Star when fan voting is tallied in a few months.
Just don’t call him a center.
The NBA removed the center designation from ballots, asking fans to select three frontcourt players instead of two forwards and one center.
“I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all,” Howard said. “We work just as hard as anybody else and I don’t think it’s fair to take away a position that has been here for life. You need a center on the court. So I don’t think it’s right. It’s like taking away a guard.”
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.
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