Westbrook on holding down Jodie Meeks: "He just happened to get lucky the first time. We're not worried about what Jodie Meeks does."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) March 14, 2014
To remind the reader, Meeks exploded for a career-high 42 points during his last outing on March 9, which also happened to come against Westbrook's squad.
During that upset, the Kentucky product drained six three-pointers and went 11-of-18 from the field, and he was unquestionably the biggest story coming out of the four-point victory.
"Being in a rhythm like that is fun, but getting a win is also fun. That was most important thing. We were down 18, so I was trying to do anything I could to help the team get back in the game," Meeks told the Associated Press via USA Today after the outburst, and it was all Mike D'Antoni could do to keep from singing his praises:
He got on fire. He has really improved his game. Defensively, he was out of sight on Russell Westbrook the whole time. He put out a lot of energy in this game, but he has been doing that on a pretty consistent basis. Jodie has been our most consistent performer. It's really fun to watch someone get better.
Well, there would be no repeat performance when the Lakers traveled to Oklahoma City just four days later.
Meeks did manage to score 19 points, but he need 15 shots to get there. He also failed to make as much of a defensive impact in the losing effort, as he couldn't do anything to contain the Thunder's explosive set of wing players.
So, was he really lucky the first time?
Yes and no.
On one hand, the 42-point outing was a serious aberration, one that stemmed from a hot shooting night. But on the other hand, Meeks has vastly improved his play in the last few weeks, and he entered the March 9 contest against the Thunder averaging 17.4 points on 47.4 percent shooting over the prior 26 games.
"His overall production is no doubt impacted by the expanded look he's gotten from L.A., but there's nothing fluky with his added efficiency," wrote B/R's Zach Buckley in between Meeks' two outings versus the Thunder. "Taking on a bigger offensive role should hurt his percentages, not help them."
Chalk this up to Westbrook being Westbrook.
He's a fiery competitor who won't ever hesitate to get under an opponent's skin, particularly when he starts getting the upper hand. It's why we see the exaggerated celebrations after big plays, and it's the reason behind the aforementioned quote.
Meeks, whether the OKC floor general wants to admit it or not, has become a valuable contributor for the Lakers. One lackluster outing against an elite defensive squad isn't going to change that.