LOS ANGELES -- Pau Gasol had just made his first three-pointer in nearly two months, and the Lakers' center did what kids across the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area have done for the last two months: he dropped his shoulders, held out three fingers and lowered his knuckles so they almost brushed the floor.
It was a move stolen straight from the book of Nick Young, which is to say Gasol played swaggily.
"We were just having fun with Nick," Gasol said after the Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 104-91. "Get a little celebration with him."
The three-pointer -- really, the afterparty -- served as the highlight for a night in which Gasol nearly notched a triple-double and the Lakers overcame the absence of not only their point guards, but their closest approximation of one.
"I got excited," Gasol said. "I think that's something I need to do more of, have fun and enjoy every second."
His first 3-pointer since Nov. 3 gave the Lakers a little cushion in the final minutes against the Timberwolves. Two minutes later, Young made his fourth 3 of the night -- this one, perhaps, in homage to Gasol.
Young led the Lakers with 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting, while Gasol was two assists shy of his eighth-career triple-double. He finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.
"I thought he played really well," Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I could just go on and name just about everybody else. ... You could just see the chemistry between them. They were excited to play."
With superstar Kobe Bryant out for at least six weeks with a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, staying in the playoff hunt may be a chore. On Friday, that meant Xavier Henry starting at point guard. The natural small forward scored 21 points, while his backcourt running mate Jodie Meeks added 17.
LAKERS SIGN MARSHALL
Kendall Marshall sat unfazed in front of his new locker, a purple and gold Lakers logo near his feet. The newly signed point guard answered questions about his past, present and possible future with the Lakers, then returned to texting on his cell phone.
If he was impressed with the jersey that hung behind him in his locker or the sight of Pau Gasol across the way, Marshall didn't show it.
"Obviously, coming from Carolina I understand that legendary feel," said Marshall, who played at North Carolina. "You see it when you walk around, you see the logos, guys on the team, so it's something I'm definitely excited about."
The Lakers signed Marshall on Friday to help fill the holes in the back court left by injured Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and quasi-point guard Kobe Bryant, who was diagnosed with a fracture in his left leg.
Marshall said he was aware of the Lakers' dire situation but tried to stay focused on helping his Delaware 87ers of the D-League. Then his cell phone rang.
"I'm excited," he said. "I won't say it's too much nervousness because at this point I don't really feel like I have that much to lose."
That's probably because Marshall watched his once-promising professional career bottom out before it had a chance to start.
Nothing has gone to plan for the former North Carolina point guard, who was the 13th overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in 2012. Marshall was a non-factor for the woeful Suns last season, averaging 14 minutes. In October, he was sent to Washington in the Emeka Okafor trade and was promptly waived by the Wizards.
Marshall landed in the D-league, where he averaged 19.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 9.6 assists in seven games with the 87ers.
Marshall said many things led to his career stalling out.
"Part of it could have been me; part of it could have been the organization, part of it could have just been the way basketball works," Marshall said. "So I can't blame anybody for the way it happened.
"Obviously they are going to do what's best for the organization as the Lakers are going to do for themselves. That's all I'm worried about at this time."
Yet it was his experience playing in then-Suns coach Alvin Gentry's up-tempo system that brought him to the Lakers.
"He did play in a similar situation in the Phoenix system, and I do know he's a good guy who can lead the team at the point as our point guard," D'Antoni said. "It's tough under any circumstances, but we'll see. He will probably get some time."
Marshall didn't get off the bench in the first half nor did he play, but D'Antoni said before the game that he had faith in the young guard.
"He's trying to find his footing in the NBA, so we'll see what he's got," D'Antoni said.
Marshall found some familiar faces when he arrived at the Lakers facility to sign his reported multiyear contract. He played with Wes Johnson in Phoenix and AAU ball with Xavier Henry.
While at North Carolina, Marshall played against Ryan Kelly, who starred at Duke, and later against Robert Sacre in a predraft camp. He grew up as a fan of Steve Blake.
"Catching up with him was cool," said Johnson, who had a locker near him in Phoenix.
Although the Lakers only have played 26 games, it apparently is never too early to talk about the playoffs. D'Antoni, however, didn't need many words to describe what the injury-plagued Lakers need to assure themselves of a postseason bid.
"I don't want to be too simple, but you have to win games," D'Antoni said. "You got to play. We have to get our point guards back, get Kobe back in a month or whatever and then go from there."
And one more thing, he said.
"Hopefully we get some luck because we're on the other side of the coin right now," D'Antoni said.
Backup center Chris Kaman, who has battled back problems and been out of D'Antoni's rotation for more than a month, played 16 minutes and finished with six points and three rebounds.
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