All of a sudden, Kendall Marshall is the discussion
The large pictures on the wall at the Lakers’ facility show Kobe Bryant elevating for a shot by the basket, Pau Gasol driving the baseline against Al Horford and even Ryan Kelly lofting a mid-range jumper in an exhibition game.
No pics of Kendall Marshall. Yet.
You can’t really blame the Lakers, who had no reason to attach themselves to a player who might not have made it out of January with them.
But then Friday night happened, Marshall becoming the first Lakers player since 2002 to get 20 points and 15 assists in a game.
It led to a blurry-quick set of events — his friends and former college teammates texted and called in droves, his Twitter followers increased dramatically and Lakers fans smiled at a fuzzy-soft story line in an otherwise dreary season.
Marshall, 22, also received something from his mother, Kim. She wasn’t happy with the sixth player to start at point guard for the Lakers this season.
“The only text I got back from my mom was she sent me a video clip and told me stop cursing because they caught me on the bench saying something,” he said Saturday. “So I guess I’ve got to watch my mouth now.”
Yeah, he should probably listen.
Marshall, though, said he picked up 8,000 or 9,000 followers on Twitter after his outburst against Utah, only his fifth game with the Lakers. He became their first player since Kobe Bryant in 2002 to get 20 points and 15 assists.
“Most people were just proud of me, but the main thing was just ‘Keep working,’” he said.
Marshall was signed by the Lakers two weeks ago after injuries to Steve Blake, Steve Nash and Bryant. He was playing in the NBA’s Development League.
It’s one thing to get 20 and 15 against Utah’s Trey Burke, who might be the NBA’s rookie of the year but is exactly that: a rookie.
It’s another thing to do it against Denver point guard Ty Lawson, a borderline All-Star the last few seasons who is averaging 17.7 points and 8.1 assists this season. The Lakers play host to the Nuggets on Sunday.
Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni has seen unknown point guards escalate quickly in his stat-friendly offense (think Jeremy Lin, New York). He said Marshall was as good on video of Friday’s game as he appeared in person.
“He might not have those numbers all the time — maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t — but the rhythm that he gives us is what’s important,” D’Antoni said. “Everybody has a little bit more pep in their step [Saturday] and last night.”
Just a handful of days earlier, Marshall yearned for something he wasn’t receiving.
“2014, all I want is stability,” he wrote on Twitter on Dec. 31.
He finally found some Friday.
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