Despite suggesting only two days ago that he’d make a switch, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni will start Kendall Marshall over Jordan Farmar tonight at point guard against the Clippers at Staples Center.
D’Antoni had earlier reservations because of Marshall’s recent struggles. He has gone scoreless in four of the past five contests. Meanwhile, Farmar has averaged 12.5 points on 46.6 percent shooting and 6.14 assists in the previous seven games. He posted a career-high 30 points in the Lakers’ win Friday over Sacramento and played the entire fourth quarter in four consecutive contests.
“He has to get out of his mini slump. We think the best way is to play out of it and see what he does,” D’Antoni said of Marshall on Thursday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “You have to be careful with people’s ego and it’s a tough position anyway. Just because someone is in a slump, you don’t want to exacerbate the problem. Kendall is good about distributing the ball, getting up and throwing the ball up and getting everyone involved. We want to start the game that way.”
Both Farmar and Marshall have remained deferential toward how D’Antoni uses them.
“Any player wants to be on the court at all times,” Marshall said. “But my job is not to worry about starting or coming off the bench, but make the most of the time I’m comning off the floor. I’m trying to help this team.”
That hasn’t happened lately.
Marshall had doled out double-digit assists on a nearly nightly basis shortly after the Lakers picked him up two months ago from the Development League. He’s done that in the past three games. But Marshall has also shot 12.5 percent from three-point range in the past five games, a far cry from his season-long 44.8 percent mark that ranks third in the NBA.
“You can’t expecte to shoot 100 percent all the time. You’re going to miss shots,” Marshall said. “It’s part of the game. You’re going to go through a slump. You have to find a way to get out of it. Teams are still guarding me the same. I’m just missing shots. I’m still able to get my teammates involved. As long as I’m still doing that, scoring is a bonus. The main thing for me that I strive in is getting teammates involved.”
Still, D’Antoni conceded that might not be enough for Marshall to surpass Farmar in playing time. In the Lakers’ loss Tuesday to New Orleans, Farmar started in the second half and played the last eight minutes of the fourth quarter.
“He’ll probably finish the game, maybe,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll watch it. We’re good.”
That’s partly because Marshall and Farmar haven’t complained one bit about their role. They’ve also remained self-critical about their play and deferential to teammates.
“You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem. You’re in the circle or out of the circle. Those guys are in the circle,” D’Antoni said. “We’re in a hard spot. All we can do is keep battling. They battle. Right or wrong with mistakes or whatever, they’re battling and they know they’ll get enough minutes to perform. Whether it’s starting or not starting, finishing a game or not finishing a game, they understand that.”
And the Lakers believe having that mindset will ameliorate the on-court issues.
“Jordan has been playing great for us. We play well when he’s on the court. He’s a great teammate. I wouldn’t expect anything less out of him,” Marshall said. “That’s this entire team. We have a team of great guys who aren’t complaining about minutes or about shots. We play well as a team. When you have everybody on the same page like that, it’s a lot fewer distractions.”
Lakers notes: Jordan Farmar could be in starting lineup tonight
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