LOS ANGELES — With the Los Angeles Lakers down two guards heading into Sunday’s game against the Orlando Magic somebody had to step up, and that player was Kent Bazemore.
In a hybrid role off the bench that featured him as a scorer and sharing the responsibility of backup point guard duties with Jodie Meeks, the 24-year-old excelled and had arguably his most well-rounded performance as a member of the Lakers as he scored eight points with a career-high eight assists, two rebounds, and one steal in 24 minutes played on Sunday.
“It’s probably the first time that I have gotten that assignment and played pretty well with it,” Bazemore said. “I tried earlier in the season with Golden State and it didn’t work. I tried it a few games ago when I first got here (in Los Angeles) and I was kind of shaky. The guys were just in the right spots all night and I had the easy part by just giving it them to make easy shots.”
As for head coach Mike D’Antoni, it was a performance that he was impressed with but also one that he would like to see more of over the remainder of the season.
“I thought Kent Bazemore played one of his better games,” D’Antoni said. “He had something like eight assist no turnovers, which is what he needs to do. He has to make plays; he can’t just make it for himself. Defensively he’s tough.; he gets out there, and gets after it and keeps his energy up. There were some good things, but you just have to repeat it and it a few more times.”
Bazemore has been a consistent contributor for the Lakers offensively with 11 double digit outputs in 14 contests with team, but has not had a chance to truly break through. So with a solid performance for the second-year guard on Sunday, it could be the type of game that he needs to get himself going in other aspects of his game outside of points.
It also helps his cause given the fact that he now has the opportunity to do that in consistent minutes off the bench with a couple of his teammates out in Xavier Henry, who will miss an extended period of time with a torn ligament in his left wrist, Jordan Farmar, who will miss at least another week with a right groin strain, and Steve Nash, who is day-to-day with a right hamstring issue.
So with that said, Bazemore knows what lies ahead of him it is now up to him to show that he can strive in that role for the remainder of the season.
Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press