LOS ANGELES -- With Kobe Bryant's left knee injury keeping him out of the upcoming NBA All-Star Game, there is still hope that the Los Angeles Lakers won't be totally shut out of the festivities down in New Orleans.
Jodie Meeks, a five-year veteran averaging career highs across the board, wants a chance to showcase his skills in the 3-point shootout on All-Star Saturday night.
"It would be nice," Meeks said. "It would be fun."
As of Thursday, Meeks ranked 12th in the league with 103 made 3s. His 41.0 percent from downtown ranked 25th, however he had attempted more 3-point shots than 20 of the players ranked ahead of him with a better percentage, so his mark becomes more impressive considering the increased sample size.
Meeks took off in January, averaging 18.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists while shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from deep in 14 games. For the season overall, Meeks is averaging career highs in points (14.6), rebounds (2.9), assists (1.8) and steals (1.4) per game.
"Meeks has been playing super," said Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni. "He's going to the basket, shooting. His defense is awesome. He just plays his rear off. He's turned into a real good basketball player."
Despite never having competed in any formal 3-point contest before at any level, Meeks could be someone to watch should he be selected because when he gets hot he really gets hot. Meeks has nine games this season with four or more made 3-pointers. He also holds the University of Kentucky record for most 3s made in a season (117 in 2008-09) and most 3s in a single game (going 10-for-15 against Tennessee in Jan. 2009).
"It opens up a lot of things," Meeks said of his sharp shooting. "If I'm struggling with my mid-range or taking it to the basket, you can always fall back on that, or vice versa."
Meeks was able to try the All-Star style 3-point shootout setup once when the Lakers were in China during the preseason at an exhibition event the league ran for the foreign fans.
"That was the first time I've ever done it," Meeks said. "I think it's a little different than actual shooting."
The way the contest works is five shooting stations are positioned around the three-point arc with each rack containing four orange and one multi-color "money" ball. Orange balls are worth one, the money ball is worth two, meaning a perfect score would be 30 in the one-minute time frame.
Meeks said he got a "14 or 15" when he had a chance to try it out in China.
"I think it's all about timing," Meeks said. "If you haven't done it before, you got to practice. I think guys sometimes get a little too cocky because they can shoot in the game, but it's different. So, you have to get a feel for it."
Only two Lakers players have ever participated in the shootout -- Byron Scott and Michael Cooper in Seattle in 1987. (Scott competed in it again in 1988 in Chicago). Bryant was invited to the event in 2008 in New Orleans but pulled out because of a torn ligament in his right pinkie finger.