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Trevor Ariza is playing like a Laker again

Apr 8, 2010, 11:30 AM EDT

The expectations around Trevor Ariza this season bordered on the ludicrous. The kind of standards we are holding the Lost finale too — but that show had better live up to it, we’ve all been strung along for long enough. We want answers. Ones that make sense.

But back to Ariza. Last year he was a force in the NBA Finals, getting wide-open threes because Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were creating them for him. And Stan Van Gundy let him take them, because he remembered the player he cut and not the player Ariza had become. Then there were the key steals, the defense.

He went from that to a Yao-less, McGrady-less Rockets team where as the new guy he was suddenly expected to create a lot of his own offense. His numbers suffered because of it — his true shooting percentage fell from a good 54.4 percent last year to an unimpressive 47.6 percent this year. (True shooting percentage is essentially points per shot attempt and counts free throws and threes in the mix.)

But now, with the dynamic Aaron Brooks/Kevin Martin backcourt creating most of the Rockets offense, Ariza has slid back into his familiar Lakers role, as Rotoworld pointed out. He has been playing minutes in the mid 20s most nights, and in the last three games he’s been giving Houston nine points, four rebounds and a couple of steals a game.

That’s not a bad thing, it’s who he is. Expecting otherwise was the mistake.

Next year, with a healthy Yao Ming back, Ariza could be a quality role player on a dangerous team. He could get chances in the open court, he could gamble a little more on defense because he has the Great Wall of China behind him to protect the rim. He could be a better version of his Lakers self. Just don’t expect anything more.

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