The Lakers held on to their half-game lead for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference with a two-point win against the Grizzlies last night, and if L.A. makes the postseason, they could get some reinforcements. Coach Mike D'Antoni revealed that Metta World Peace could be back by the end of the month, knocking two weeks off the original six-week timetable for his recovery from a left knee injury, tweets Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. Jordan Hill tells Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News he's seeking medical clearance to return at about the same time, though D'Antoni is skeptical about that. Either way, there's reason for optimism in a season that's left Lakers fans with little of it. Here's more on the purple and gold and other news from the Pacific:
- Most signs, including the three years left on D'Antoni's contract, point to him returning to coach the Lakers next season in spite of the team's disappointing play, writes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein also suggests that while Dwight Howard may have sway over D'Antoni's future if the big man threatens to sign elsewhere, Howard won't have nearly the clout that fellow soon-to-be free agent Chris Paul will wield on the Clippers' coaching situation.
- Regardless of who's in charge of the Kings next season, the "leaguewide presumption" is that neither GM Geoff Petrie nor coach Keith Smart will return, Stein adds in the same piece.
- Kendall Marshall wasn't among the 10 players I mentioned yesterday when I examined 2012 first-round picks who've seen limited action this season, but his 568 total minutes would make him the 11th player on the list. He's been seeing more action of late with the Suns, and Marshall tells Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic that he's finally starting to feel comfortable.