LOS ANGELES--It was strangely bizarre to see something different besides the doom and despair typically drizzling over Los Angeles Lakers game at Staples Center.
Marshall Mania, anybody?
So many things had gone so wrong this season but a newbie named Kendall Marshall was an immediate hit with 20 points and 15 assists in a 110-99 victory over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.
The sixth player to start at point guard for the Lakers this season became the first guy since 2002 with 20 points and 15 assists in a game for them.
Poker-faced assistant coach Kurt Rambis couldn't even hide a smile from the Lakers' bench after Marshall's three-pointer meant a 102-94 lead with 45.7 seconds left.
There was also a grin from Kobe Bryant, who had 23 points and 15 assists in that 2002 game against Washington.
A solitary fan tried to start a lonely if not sarcastic "M-V-P" chant when Marshall shot free throws in the first quarter. When Marshall drilled the late three-pointer, seemingly every Lakers fan erupted in the arena.
Marshall was playing for the Delaware 87ers of the NBA's Development League when the Lakers plucked him from obscurity two weeks ago, their hand forced because of injuries to Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Bryant. He had an unremarkable 11 points, 11 assists and six turnovers in his last game there, a loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Marshall didn't show much in his first four games with the Lakers, averaging 5.3 points and 2.5 assists as a reserve. But when Jordan Farmar was declared out for four weeks because of a hamstring injury, Marshall was the Lakers' only option at point guard.
Somewhere, Jeremy Lin is nodding his head, the nothing-to-everything candidate under Coach Mike D'Antoni in New York.
Marshall made eight of 12 shots and had only one turnover but he wasn't close to the loudest voice in the Lakers' locker room. Reporters were forced to lean in to listen to Marshall's quiet interview because the always-ebullient Nick Young was loudly chiding Shawne Williams about something a few lockers away.
Then Chris Kaman, who didn't play Friday, told reporters quite loudly to get out of the way of his locker.
For those who could hear Marshall, he had a lot to say in very few words.
As of last month, Marshall was merely a first-round draft washout. He was selected by Phoenix with the 13th pick in 2012 but was cut by Washington before this season after the Wizards acquired him from Phoenix in a larger trade for center Marcin Gortat.
So Marshall, 22, went to the Development League, trying to keep alive a career that appeared to have peaked at the University of North Carolina.
"I actually made a list of things in my phone, things that kind of drive me that people said I couldn't do, and I really just recite those things to myself every single day," Marshall said.
At the top of that list?
"They say you can't shoot, they say you're too slow, they say you can't defend," Marshall said.
Marshall was so good early that his five assists were three more than Utah had in the first quarter.
"I thought he had a great pace to the game and he throws frozen ropes out there. That ball is, like, in your chest in a good rhythm," D'Antoni said. "Hey, he had an opportunity and (Friday) he made the most of it. Now he's just got to keep repeating it."
Buried among Marshall's game and the end of a six-game losing streak for the Lakers (14-19) was Pau Gasol's 23-point, 17-rebound, eight-assist effort.
Gordon Hayward had 22 points for Utah (11-25), which remained at the bottom of the Western Conference.
An unknown named Marshall was the reason why.
"Things have happened kind of fast but I'm still humbled by the situation and I just want to keep going," he said.
(c)2014 Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services