Celebrating Metta World Peace’s Role in the Lakers’ Success

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant's injured ankle garnered most of the attention prior to Friday night's matchup with the Indiana Pacers, but the Lakers' 99-93 win over the Pacers was memorable because Bryant didn't really have much to do with it.

For only the 15th time in his 17-season career, Bryant failed to register a point after shooting 0-of-4 from the field in one quarter of duty, and the fate of the game and possibly the Lakers' momentum was left up to Bryant's teammates.

And they didn't disappoint. Steve Blake, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison turned in monster performances while players like Earl Clark stepped up and shone in pivotal moments.

There were also the critical contributions from the player formerly known as Ron Artest.

Howard grabbed most of the headlines with his 20-point, 12-rebound, four-block, four-assist performance, and it was hard not to notice Blake's 18 points and seven assists in his best game this season.

But there was Metta World Peace scoring 19 points of his own, while also grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out three assists in a return to his old stomping grounds.

On the defensive end World Peace was equally effective, snatching two steals and harassing Pacers forward David West into a 4-of-13 shooting performance from the field.

When praised for his defensive effort against West, the Lakers forward also gave credit to his team, which is a departure from the sound bytes that most people are used to.

In fact, some Lakers fans would argue that World Peace's greatest contribution to the Lakers this season is not becoming a distraction in a season that has been defined by them. And while the relatively even-keeled approach from World Peace is nice, he has been helping the Lakers on the court as well.

It's easy to get lost on a roster that includes three sure Hall of Famers in Bryant, Nash and Pau Gasol, and one who wil...

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