The small forward played two seasons with the Lakers, taking on an important two-way supporting role during the Lakers’ 2009 NBA championship run. After coming off the bench for most of his Lakers tenure, Ariza became a starter toward the end of 2008-09 season. He scored a playoff career-high 21 points against Utah in Game 1 of the 2009 Western Conference finals and had 13 second-half points in a Game 4 victory over Orlando in the NBA Finals. However, his defensive play was perhaps his biggest contribution to the title run, prompting Coach Phil Jackson to nickname him “Cobra.” Ariza, who was drafted by New York in 2004 after playing one season at UCLA, signed with Houston after the 2008-09 season.
Feb. 12, 2011