- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- In an attempt to bust struggling Lakers point guard Kendall Marshall out of his slump, coach Mike D’Antoni said he will keep Marshall in the starting lineup when the Lakers host the Clippers on Thursday.
After the Lakers’ 132-125 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, a game in which Jordan Farmar had 20 points and eight assists in 26 minutes while starting the second half at point guard over Marshall, D’Antoni said he was considering a lineup change, but ultimately decided to stand pat.
“[Farmar] will probably finish the [Clippers] game, maybe, we’ll watch it,” D’Antoni said after shootaround Thursday. “But we’re good.”
Marshall has gone scoreless in four out of the Lakers’ last five games, going 3-for-24 (12.5 percent) overall during that span.
“He has to get out of his slump, mini-slump, and we think the best way to get out of it is to play out of it,” said D’Antoni. “You got to be careful with peoples’ egos. It’s a tough position anyway, and just because somebody is in a little bit of a slump you don’t want to exacerbate the problem. That’s one. And Kendall is good about distributing the ball, getting it up and throwing the ball up and getting everybody involved.”
Marshall was the last player on the Lakers’ practice court Thursday, getting up extra shot attempts.
“You miss shots,” Marshall said. “You can’t expect to shoot 100 percent all the time. It’s a part of the game. You’re going to miss shots, you’re going to go through a slump, but you got to find a way to get out of it.”
Marshall, who has averaged 9.4 points, 11.0 assists and 34.3 minutes in 24 games as a starter with L.A. and 7.2 points, 5.3 assists and 21.0 minutes in nine games off the bench, said that he tries not to worry about a starting role.
“It’s all about what you do when you’re on the court,” Marshall said. “Whether that’s six minutes, 20 minutes or 40 minutes, you got to make the most of that time. Jordan has been playing great for us, we’ve played well when he’s on the court and he’s a great teammate.”
Despite Marshall’s shot being off lately, he has still dished out double-digit assists in each of the last three games. It is a rare feat by the second-year player. While Marshall totaled zero points and 10-plus assists in two of the last three games, the rest of the league combined has just three games like that all season, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
“Obviously I’m still able to get my teammates involved,” Marshall said. “So, as long as I’m doing that, the scoring is a bonus. But the main thing for me, what I strive in, is getting teammates involved.”
Perhaps the matchup with the Clippers’ Chris Paul will motivate Marshall. Paul, who Marshall said was the best point guard in the league, has become a bit of a mentor to the fellow ACC product (Paul went to Wake Forest, Marshall went to North Carolina) and Marshall even participated in Paul’s camp when he was younger.
“He’s kind of been like a big brother to me, honestly,” Marshall said. “From my time late in high school to throughout college, he was always giving me a word of advice and this summer, even when I went through being waived and stuff, he was there talking to me and everything. So, he’s been great for me and he’s a guy that I really look up to.”
Paul has helped Marshall’s confidence grow during his unconventional path in the NBA, from being traded by the team that drafted him (Phoenix) after just one season, to being waived by the Washington Wizards to being called up from the Delaware 87ers of the D-League by the Lakers.
“Just telling me that I am a player in this league and guys are going to go through these types of things all the time,” Marshall said of Paul’s advice. “You just have to find a way to fight through it.”
If Marshall doesn’t retain his starting spot moving forward, he could soon find himself competing with Xavier Henry for back-up point guard minutes. Henry, back on the court this week for the first time since a bone bruise in his right knee sidelined him in late December, will get a chance to run point also.
“We could go bigger which helps a lot of the mismatches,” D’Antoni said. “Yes, it’s something we want to try. I don’t know if we’re quite ready yet. But it’s something we want to look at in the last 20 games.”
Lakers forward Jordan Hill will not play against the Clippers and is considered day to day because of a sore right knee. Hill had already found himself out of D’Antoni’s rotation, collecting two straight Did Not Play – Coach’s Decisions in the Lakers’ last two games.
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