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Saturday, January 18, 2014
Rebounds the recipe to Lakers' success

By Dave McMenamin

TORONTO -- The Los Angeles Lakers snapped their six-game losing streak by beating the Boston Celtics on Friday. As much as the win could be chalked up to L.A.'s 12-for-20 mark on 3-pointers, it was their work on the glass that really stood out.

The Lakers outrebounded the Celtics 46-42, in stark contrast to when L.A. was being outboarded by an average of 8.5 rebounds per game during its string of consecutive losses.

Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers outrebounded the Celtics 46-42 during their victory in Boston. The team is focused on boards, which is a good thing considering L.A. was outrebounded by an average of 8.5 rebounds per game during its six-game losing skid prior to Friday.
L.A. ranks dead last in the league in rebounding differential (minus-5.0) and offensive rebounds per game allowed (13.1). But the Lakers made battling on the boards a top priority at a team meeting Friday morning, and the focus paid off.

Making the biggest difference in the rebounding department against the Celtics were Wesley Johnson (11 boards, up from his 3.6 per game season average) and Jodie Meeks (seven boards, up from his 3.0 per game season average).

"I know we’ve been getting beat up on the boards pretty much the entire season, so I just really made it an effort to really get in and then whenever we secure the rebound, just run back," said Johnson, who set a new career high mark for rebounds Friday. "So I made it an effort really just to get in."

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said it came down to effort as much as anything.

"We need everyone to go in the paint and wrestle and box out and get those boards, because we usually play small," D'Antoni said. "We just need to protect the paint, because that’s been an issue for us. Second-chance points, points in the paint, easy putbacks.

"We just need to scramble and really compete there and understand how important it is to keep opponents under one shot, because that gives us an opportunity to really run at them and score on the other end. So we should continue to make that a point of emphasis for us."

The Lakers will start with a smaller group when they play the Toronto Raptors at 10 a.m. Sunday, with D'Antoni putting Ryan Kelly and his 2.4 rebounds per game average in the starting lineup in place of Jordan Hill, who is the Lakers' second-leading rebounder with an average of 7.4 boards per game this season.

D'Antoni doesn't think the lineup shift should hurt his team's chances collecting caroms, however.

"We don’t rebound anyway," D'Antoni said, sarcastically. "It’s not going to be any bigger challenge than what it is. We can’t get any worse. But rebounds, how many times do rebounds get above the rim? Not many. So, it’s all below the rim and we got to have guys a little more active and that’s what Ryan does.

"Ryan will clear out space, he’ll block out when he needs to. He’s a smart basketball player. So I think we’ll rebound the ball better."