“I think I’ve had to grow up a little faster than I would have just playing in L.A.,” said Ariza, who signed a five-year, $33 million free agent deal with Houston in the summer of 2009, opening the door for the Lakers to sign Ron Artest. “I know more now. We have a lot of younger players that really haven’t been deep in the playoffs or in the thick of things. Since I’ve been there, I guess I can use that experience and share it with my teammates.”
Ariza was vital to the Lakers’ championship run in ‘09, averaging 11.3 points while shooting 47.6 percent on 3-pointers as the team’s starting small forward. Not only did he seal two wins in the conference finals against Denver with late steals, he averaged 15.5 points, seven rebounds and two steals per game on the road in Games 4 and 5 to close out Orlando.
Ariza was coming off a broken foot in 2008 when the Lakers lost to Boston in the Finals and played a total of just 35 minutes in the six-game series against the Celtics. Had he been healthy, the Lakers could be looking at a four-peat this season instead of just a three-peat.
“He definitely could have helped us, especially in Boston guarding [Paul] Pierce and Ray Allen,” said Lamar Odom who lit up, and declared, “That’s my guy!” when asked about Ariza. “There were some guys on that team in the playoffs when we made the run that we didn’t get too much out of and I think Trevor would have been a guy that just could have helped. He’s fearless.”
I love home. I love my time when I was here. I love those guys,” Ariza said.