Lakers Vs. Clippers: Ron Artest Has Been Hot Of Late

As the Los Angeles Lakers seek their eighth straight victory today, battling the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center, they will look to the suddenly hot Ron Artest. The small forward has been knocking down his open shots of late, especially from distance. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times offered his explanation as to why Artest has been playing so well of late, including making seven of 12 three-pointers in his last three games:

Artest's play has also appeared to improve, as indicated by his late-game shots against Phoenix and Golden State, improved entry passes and some feisty defensive play against New York, which helped set the Lakers' tone defensively as they continue sharpening the new scheme that emphasizes closing out on the perimeter, forcing opponents baseline and the frontcourt remaining close to the basket.

But it goes deeper than that. Artest has been knocking down threes since Christmas, almost as if he asked for and received the gift of long distance shooting from Santa Claus. Artest made both three-pointers that day against the Heat and in his last 12 games has made 20 of his 37 shots (54.1%) from beyond the arc. He has made at least two threes in nine of those 12 games, and in the other three games Artest didn't force things, going 0-for-1 three times. Incidentally, Artest has only made 21 of 52 two-point field goals (40.4%) during that stretch, so perhaps sticking to those corner threes is the way to go.

Here are today's probable starters:

Lakers (30-11)

Clippers (13-25)

For more information on today's game, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll and Clips Nation.

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