Marcelo Huertas makes another strong point in Lakers’ 104-102 victory over Portland
Quick query: Who is the Lakers’ only true point guard?
Not Jordan Clarkson. He’s a converted shooting guard.
Not D’Angelo Russell. Much more of a shooter than passer at Ohio State.
Lou Williams? Please. A shooting guard stuck in a point guard’s body.
Marcelo Huertas will make the Lakers’ final roster because he’s their only pure point guard. He has never played an NBA regular-season game, declining millions of euros in salary to sign a $525,000 nonguaranteed contract with the Lakers, but he has already made a slew of smooth passes.
Huertas has 14 assists in 31 exhibition minutes and plenty of fans among teammates.
“Especially shooters,” Coach Byron Scott said Monday. “They love to play with guys that pass. He’s obviously strictly a throwback-type point guard where he’s thinking about setting up his teammates before he ever thinks about scoring.”
Dunkers also like Huertas. He lobbed the ball to Tarik Black in a two-on-one break for an easy second-quarter dunk in the Lakers’ 104-102 exhibition victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center.
Huertas, 32, drove in from the three-point line and bounced the ball backward between his legs to Nick Young, who stood at the arc for an open three-pointer.
His passing might remind some people a little of Ricky Rubio. Unfortunately for Huertas, so does his shooting. He made only three of nine shots against Portland.
Huertas is a bit of a Renaissance man, carrying passports to two countries.
He was born in Brazil and spent the last four seasons with European powerhouse FC Barcelona, averaging eight points and 4.3 assists. He also played professionally in Italy.
He’s somewhat of an unknown at this level, so it wasn’t surprising that two NBA scouts watched him intently during a 20-minute pregame workout.
The Lakers’ point guard of the future obviously remains Russell, but Scott isn’t sure whether the 19-year-old will start the Oct. 28 season opener against Minnesota.
“Still trying to figure it out,” Scott said of Russell, who had 12 points and no assists in 17 minutes as a starter Monday. Clarkson had 17 points on six-for-nine shooting as the Lakers played without Kobe Bryant (bruised lower leg).
Ryan Kelly’s driving dunk proved to be the game winner with two seconds left.
Who gets cut?
With Huertas now a shoo-in for the final roster, there are only two spots left, assuming the Lakers keep 15 players.
Robert Sacre has the experience but undrafted Robert Upshaw the shot-blocking potential to unseat him as the Lakers’ No. 3 center.
And Metta World Peace still has some of the NBA’s fastest hands on defense but Jabari Brown is 13 years younger and showed he could score in bursts last season.
Jonathan Holmes and Michael Frazier are extreme longshots to make the team. Holmes suffered a dislocated right shoulder Monday after a collision while pursuing a loose ball and could be sidelined more than two weeks.
Kobe Bryant’s rest
A clear-cut plan for how to preserve Bryant has not been established, but there will be a strict minutes limit and also some games missed in back-to-back situations.
Scott doesn’t expect a fight from Bryant.
“He’s so much [more] mellowed,” Scott said. “If I say, ‘Kobe, let’s sit this one out,’ it’s no arguments. He’s like, ‘All right, coach.’ We haven’t got to that point where we’ve had to butt heads or anything like that.”
Bryant will probably get on the practice court Tuesday, Scott said.
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