Before the season the plan was Steve Nash at the point for the Lakers. An ongoing nerve root issue that impacts his back and neck has scuttled that plan so far.
Steve Blake was next in line, and he played surprising well adjusting to Mike D’Antoni’s system, but a torn ligament in his elbow sidelined him.
Jordan Farmar has been rejuvenated in the up-tempo system, but he is out with a torn hamstring.
Then D’Antoni turned to Xavier Henry — really a swingman but the best option left — and he has a bone bruise in his knee.
So Kendall Marshall, come on down, you’re the next contestant on “who wants to be the Lakers’ point guard.” Marshall will start at the point for the Lakers Friday night, via Lakers reporter Mike Trudell, with two-guard Jodie Meeks serving as his backup.
Marshall had been struggling to find his footing with the Suns, and since they have Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic they traded him to the Wizards, who promptly cut him. Both with the Suns and as a free agent Marshall has bounced down to the D-League but not been able to stick up in the NBA.
What Marshall can do is create plays for others — he has good court vision and is a pure pass-first point. The problem is he has been a terrible shooter that other teams don’t respect as a scoring threat (last season he shot just 54 percent in the restricted area, 34 percent from the midrange and 31 percent from three). Plus his defense isn’t very good.
Those numbers have looked a little better this season, but seeing he has played 54 total minutes in four games it’s a small sample size. It’s very different and much more difficult going up against starters, which he will do against Trey Burke and the Jazz on Friday night.
But what other option do the Lakers have?
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.