Jodie Meeks, the Lakers' leading scorer in Kobe's absence, credits hard work for his success

Los Angeles TimesNovember 18, 2013 

Spurs Lakers Basketball

Los Angeles Lakers guard Jodie Meeks (20) shoots over San Antonio Spurs guard Marco Belinelli (3) on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, in Los Angeles.


LOS ANGELES — Twelve games into the season, Jodie Meeks is the Los Angeles Lakers' leading scorer, as everybody predicted.

Jodie Meeks? The career part-time starter?

He is averaging 13.7 points, moving ahead of Pau Gasol, after scoring 44 over the last two games.

"I don't even worry about the numbers. I don't really look at my stats or anything like that," Meeks said after scoring 19 points Sunday while making four of seven three-point attempts against Detroit. "I just put the work in before and after practice, before the games, as many shots as I can get up."

Meeks is not a driver. He's not a banger. He's a shooter. Period. And not always an accurate one.

He made 13 of his last 24 three-point shots, though, and his efficiency from long range (49.2 percent so far) helped boost his overall shooting percentage to 52.8 percent, second to only Jordan Hill among the Lakers' rotation players.

Meeks, 26, came into the season with career accuracy of 40.4 percent overall, 36.7 percent from three-point range.

"It's good to see the hard work paying off," he said. "Some years, you might not shoot it particularly well. Or with your particular game you might not have the best season, but you just have to keep going and not worry about it."

Meeks was a starter 45 percent of the time in his first four NBA seasons. Fittingly, he started six of the Lakers' 12 games this season. He is making $1.55 million in the last season of his contract, the Lakers exercising a team option last June.

To his credit, he already looks beyond basketball and goes back to school every summer. He left Kentucky after three seasons but took classes there the last four summers to move within a few credits of graduating.

A degree will presumably be earned next summer, along with a new NBA contract. Maybe it'll be with the Lakers, but maybe with another team if Meeks keeps shooting like this.

Former Laker forward Earl Clark, after all, signed a two-year contract for $8.5 million with Cleveland last July.

Meeks' shoot-first approach can be tracked pretty easily to his college days.

In January 2009, he broke Kentucky's single-game record by scoring 54 points against Tennessee. He declared for the NBA Draft a few months later and was subsequently taken 41st overall.

"I know I can score the ball, but there's always room for improvement," he said, indicating he'd like to work on his defense.

For now, he's scored in double figures every game but two this season. Gasol is the only other Lakers player who can claim that.

Gasol and Nick Young are behind Meeks on the Lakers' scoring list, each averaging 13 points.

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