Jordan Clarkson revels in first start with Lakers

Jordan Clarkson revels in first start with Lakers
Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson, right, held his own for most of the game against Spurs veteran Tony Parker on Friday night. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Friday night marked just another Lakers loss, unless you were the father-son combo of Mike and Jordan Clarkson.

Jordan earned his first NBA start 44 games into his rookie season and delivered solid results — 11 points and four assists with only one turnover in 29 minutes — against one of the league's top point guards, San Antonio's Tony Parker.

It meant just as much to Mike Clarkson, diagnosed last year with a rare form of cancer in his lower back, but there at AT&T Center to see his son's first legitimate NBA steps.

"When I heard he was starting, I can't even tell you the feeling because I've never had that feeling before," said Mike Clarkson, who raised Jordan in San Antonio and was on hand for all his games at nearby Wagner High.


Jordan was selected 46th overall in June, his draft stock dropping because of a scoring slump the second half of his junior season at Missouri. It directly coincided with the news of his father's diagnosis.

Mike's cancer has since diminished greatly, reduced to only a handful of satellite cells that doctors continue to observe.

Jordan is a get-back-to-work type who eventually revealed some inner exuberance after his debut as a starter.

"Hopefully, I'm going to be in the league for 10, 15 years and I can look back and say my first start was at home," Clarkson said. "That's always going to be cool."

Lakers Coach Byron Scott didn't think it would be easy for Clarkson against the defending NBA champions, who won, 99-84.

But Clarkson scored in the first quarter on a 19-foot pull-up jump shot, a fastbreak layup, and with Tim Duncan lingering in the paint, a four-foot shot after creating space with a quick curl under the basket.

Clarkson made a reverse layup after weaving through traffic in the second quarter and also found Carlos Boozer for an easy fastbreak layup.

Later in the game, he led a fastbreak, drew a foul on Manu Ginobili, and made the layup and free throw.

"We already knew he had the burst. The thing with Jordan was to get him to slow down," Scott said. "With his speed, he should have three gears. He should be like half speed, then three-quarters and then put that burst when he really needs to get by people.

"I thought he showed some maturity [Friday] as far as slowing his game down and then when he needed it, he was able to put the jets on."

Clarkson's success against the Spurs kept Jeremy Lin on the bench as a DNP-CD for the first time in nearly three years.

At the very least, Clarkson's play was early validation for the Lakers spending $1.8 million to buy Washington's second-round draft pick in June. They eagerly selected Clarkson with it.