Sports Out West

Lakers: A prime opportunity for Kendall Marshall

Photo Credit: Chris Carlson / Associated Press

 LOS ANGELES- In Sunday’s 111-104 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers the Los Angeles Lakers loss another guard to an injury, and this time it was Xavier Henry.

The 23-year-0ld exited the game in the first quarter after suffering a right knee strain on a non-contact play and is going to receive an MRI on Monday to see the severity of the injury.

“I just landed awkwardly on my leg when I was about to plant,” Henry said. “I tried to gather myself and stumbled a little bit, and it felt loose.”

With Henry appearing likely to missing an extended period of time, it provides a prime opportunity for point guard Kendall Marshall to earn more playing and earn a spot in Mike D’Antoni’s rotation. As for the timing of the Henry’s injury, it is an interesting development as D’Antoni had some critical comments about the second-year guard out of North Carolina prior to Sunday’s game.

“He’s got to be better than the point guard we have out there, and X right now is doing a pretty good job,” D’Antoni said. “And the other thing he has going against him, I don’t know him.  I’ve seen him play maybe two minutes. I don’t think we’re at the point where, ‘Oh, let’s experiment.’ Maybe when we’re going good, but we’re not going to lose games because I’m over here experimenting. I haven’t had time to see him and he’s trying to find his way in the league. He hasn’t established that yet. But we hope that maybe in garbage time in our favor, or something would happen that we’d get a look at him, but I just can’t just grasp straws.”

Marshall had signed with the Lakers about a week and a half ago when the team announced that Kobe Bryant would miss at least six weeks with a fractured tibial plateau in his left knee. The 22-year-old point guard was playing in the D-League as a member of the Delaware 87ers where he was averaging 19.7 points and 9.6 assists, and 4.7 rebounds in seven games played.

The need to sign another point guard was crucial at the time because the team also had all three of their point guards out with injuries in Steve Blake (torn lateral ulnar in right elbow), Jordan Farmar (torn left hamstring), and Steve Nash (nerve root irritation in lower back).

Marshall was not able to initially get playing time as Henry fulfilled point guard duties for the team’s second unit and Farmar took over as the team’s starting point guard. But now with Henry out it leaves the team with just two healthy ball handlers in Farmar and Marshall.

In Henry’s absence on Sunday, Marshall scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting with three assists in 17 minutes on the floor. It was not only the 22-year-old’s most productive game as a Laker, but also his most comfortable one too.

“Definitely,” Marshall said. “I think we were going off on a couple runs, which was good for my confidence. we the team is playing well, I think that gets everybody going.”

The Lakers will need Marshall to continue to feel confident on the floor as he will be primary orchestrator of the offense for the second unit, and will have to continue to produce offensive as well.

“It felt good, but I felt what was most important for our team was that we get the pace going,” Marshall said about hitting a couple of shots on Sunday. ” I felt like we’re successful when we started getting up and down and moving at a faster pace, and that came from getting defensive stops. I think that was the main thing I was able to help with.”

However long the time frame will be for Henry’s recovery from his injury, one thing is for certain: Marshall has a great opportunity to prove he can help the Lakers succeed and that he belongs in the NBA.

Photo Credit: Chris Carlson / Associated Press

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.