SALT LAKE CITY — Who knows if he’ll reach Linsanity levels of hype and hoopla, but Kendall Marshall’s huge game against the Utah Jazz on Friday night in Los Angeles drew comparisons to Jeremy Lin.
Marshall’s breakout performance in the Lakers’ 110-99 win over the Jazz included career highs of 20 points and 15 assists in his first start with injury-plagued L.A.
Not bad for a point guard who began this season in the D-League after being traded by Phoenix, his rookie team, in October and subsequently getting waived by the Washington Wizards.
“We were able to win, and that was the main point,” Marshall said. “I give all my thanks to my teammates. They made me comfortable.”
Marshall, the No. 13 pick of the 2012 draft, quickly became a Staples Center crowd favorite Friday, especially after his 3-pointer from 27 feet out with 45 seconds remaining all but clinched the Lakers’ win and helped snap a six-game losing streak.
Fun to watch — unless you're rooting for the Jazz, who, if you recall, saw Lin score 28 points in Madison Square Garden in the second game of his Linsanity craze in 2012.
"Give him (Marshall) credit. He's making the most out of his opportunity," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "You're happy for those kinds of guys. I'm just not happy it happened against us."
The 6-foot-4 Marshall became the sixth starting point guard this season for the Lakers, who’ve also used injured players Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry and Jordan Farmar at the position. He was signed from the Delaware 87ers on Dec. 20 because of the Lakers’ health woes.
Tinseltown’s new star outplayed Jazz point guard Trey Burke hours after the Utah starter learned that he’d been named the NBA’s Western Conference Rookie of the Month for December.
Burke helped Utah dig out of a 21-point hole and cut the Lakers’ lead to four in the final minutes, but he only scored six points on 3-of-15 shooting and was limited early on due to foul problems.
Corbin said Burke, who had nine assists and just one turnover, can learn a lesson from the experience.
“You can’t take anyone for granted in this league,” Corbin said. “Regardless of who guys are, where they’ve been or what they’ve been doing, you just have to step out there and be ready to go because guys can play. You slip up on them and relax a little bit, and they have a huge night on you.”
The 22-year-old Marshall admitted after the game that he had some extra motivation to play well against the Jazz. Utah had a chance to sign him after releasing veteran point guard Jamaal Tinsley, but the team opted to pick up Diante Garrett from the D-League instead.
“I know that the Jazz let go of a guard earlier this year and I didn’t get a call,” Marshall said after Friday’s game. “So, I kind of felt a certain way about that.”
One Jazz player was particularly excited about Marshall’s personal performance. Forward Marvin Williams and Marshall both played for North Carolina in college, albeit seven years apart from each other.
Williams made a point to congratulate his fellow Tar Heel on multiple occasions.
"He told me after the game he was extremely proud of me,” Marshall told the Orange County Register at Saturday’s practice. “He hated it had to be against them, but he’s happy for me.”
Williams then sent Marshall a message.
“(I) saw him again, then he texted me again after the game just to tell me how proud he was of me,” Marshall said. “Marvin’s like a big brother to me. Part of it’s the Carolina family, but even when I first got there, he embraced me and I really look up him.”
D-LEAGUE AGAIN: Jazz rookies Rudy Gobert and Ian Clark stayed in Los Angeles after the Jazz returned to Utah following Friday’s game. They have been reassigned to the D-League for a second stint with the Bakersfield Jam, who played the L.A. D-Fenderz on Saturday.
Gobert and Clark spent the first week of the Jazz’s pre-Christmas road trip with the Jam, getting extensive action in three D-League games before meeting back up with Utah while Bakersfield took a holiday break.
The Jam will participate in the D-League Showcase on Sunday and Tuesday in Reno, Nev.
R and R: Through Friday’s game, the Jazz had played the most games (36) in the NBA. Corbin gave his players Saturday off, but they’ll resume practicing Sunday and Monday before hosting Oklahoma City on Tuesday. Utah then has two more full days before their next game, Friday at home against Cleveland.
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