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Darius Morris likely to see reduced playing time

January 28, 2012 |  4:02 pm

At some point during the NBA season, Lakers guard Darius Morris cut through the filter and reiterated this to assistant coach John Kuester: "I can play."

The comment struck the Lakers' coaching staff because it showcased the Lakers' rookie strong confidence in himself. But it also showed just how much little faith the Lakers have in him.

The latest sign: Lakers Coach Mike Brown said he plans on giving the backup point guard spot to Andrew Goudelock when the Lakers visit the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night after scoring a career-high 14 points Wednesday against the Clippers. Whenever Lakers guard Steve Blake returns within the next week or two from a fracture connected to his rib and sternum, it's likely neither will see much playing time at all. Morris recalled Brown telling him Goudelock's promotion had nothing to do with his play during Blake's absence, but his comments to the media only days earlier suggested otherwise.

"I'm playing a young guy at a pretty important spot, just out of college," Brown said of Morris.
"We're relying on him to do a lot out on the floor, as your point guard. Not necessarily to score, but to get guys in the right spot at the right time, and it's not like he can only play five minutes or we can move him along slowly."

Morris' seven-game stretch where he averaged 3.6 points on 40% shooting featured questionable decision-making, yet intriguing potential. He appeared foolish waving off Pau Gasol on a pick-and-roll sequence so he could guard Chris Paul one-on-one only to get beat. But Morris appeared incredibly composed in responding with a half-court buzzer beater. His speed and quick dribble showed his potential in running the point guard. But his over-dribbling often came at the expense of actually running the offense.

"I was thrown into the fire," Morris said. "But it is what it is. Hopefully when I get out there, that will make me that much better."

Even if it's indisputable the Lakers have suffered with him on the floor, it's clear Morris' athleticism and play-making abilities will flourish. The question remains when. Blake's return to the lineup won't cause Brown to grant Morris and Goudelock as many minutes at point guard. If the Lakers acquire a point guard before the March 15 deadline, Morris' role diminishes even more.

But Morris rightfully has kept his head up. He illustrates his mantra on "staying ready" by constantly working on ball handling and shooting drills after practice and before the game. Morris also maintains a professional attitude and remains close with Goudelock as they navigate fitting into a veteran-laden team together. And he's pretty clear on how he needs to work on his game.

"Being more decisive," Morris said. "I passed up a lot of shots. Next time that won't happen. I will definitely shoot them, Just be a threat at all times."

It's plausible that might happen by playing Morris at point guard while Blake plays at shooting guard. Brown tried that rotation in the Lakers' 90-87 victory Jan. 11 at Utah where Morris scored four points on two of two shooting. But for now, Morris will still maintain that confidence he can play. Even if the coaching staff feels otherwise.

"I'll just stay ready," Morris said. "I'm happy I'm able to get that progression. No matter how much you practice, you can't simulate that."

RELATED:

Andrew Goudelock to receive more playing time

Darius Morris wants to 'maximize opportunity'

Darius Morris working out with full intensity

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com


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