LOS ANGELES (AP) - Mike D'Antoni's 'Marshall plan' worked to perfection on a night when the Lakers' coach didn't have any other choice.
Pau Gasol had 23 points and 17 rebounds, and injury-riddled Los Angeles used its sixth different starting point guard of the season in a 110-99 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
Kendall Marshall was given the assignment by D'Antoni, who has used 18 different starting lineups this season. He was the 14th player to start a game for the Lakers overall, finishing with 20 points and 15 assists in 40 minutes - all career highs.
'I've got to give all the thanks to my teammates. They did a great job of helping me out, as well as the coaches,' Marshall said. 'When we're knocking down shots and playing defense, that makes it really easy on me.'
Marshall's other three starts in the NBA came last season with Phoenix, and the Suns lost all three games despite his 37 assists. He spent 2 1/2 weeks with the Delaware 87ers of the D-League before the Lakers signed him on Dec. 20.
'Everything happens for a reason, so I'm thankful for the position I'm in right now and I want to make the most of it with this team,' he said.
Marshall began his freshman season at North Carolina as a backup point guard to Larry Drew II, before coach Roy Williams made him a starter. In one game, he had 16 assists to help beat Florida State. As a sophomore, he set an ACC single-season record with 351 assists.
'One thing I do take pride in is being a leader,' Marshall said. 'It definitely felt like I was back at Carolina, just the way that we were playing tonight. There were a lot of similarities. We were getting up and down the floor, and I'm excited about it. But the thing I'm most excited about is starting the year with a win.'
The victory snapped a six-game losing streak for the Lakers, who concluded a four-game stretch against teams that are last in their respective divisions.
Gordon Hayward scored 22 points for the Jazz. They never led in their rematch with the Lakers - which came a week after Derrick Favors' putback dunk with 2.1 seconds remaining beat them 105-103 at Salt Lake City and snapped Utah's four-game home losing streak.
Gasol missed that game in Utah because of a respiratory infection, joining Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake and Steve Nash on a lengthy infirmary list that also has included Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and Chris Kaman. Johnson was back in the lineup and was the first player off D'Antoni's depleted bench, getting 11 points in 22 minutes after missing Tuesday's game because of gastroenteritis.
Trailing by 21 points with 4 minutes left in the third quarter, Utah narrowed the gap to 90-86 with a 19-7 run capped by Enes Kanter's short jumper with 4:47 to play. But Nick Young responded with a 20-footer to ignite a game-ending 16-9 run that was highlighted by 3-pointers 30 seconds apart by Jodie Meeks and Marshall.
'I thought we had opportunities,' Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. 'I respect our guys for the way they fought back after we got ourselves in a big hole. We really can't afford to do that, especially on the road.'
Gasol led the Lakers to a 52-40 halftime lead with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Marshall had nine assists and seven points. Utah, trying for its first three-game winning streak of the season after beating Charlotte and Milwaukee at home, missed 12 of its first 15 shots while Los Angeles opened the game with a 19-6 run.
'It seems like when Kobe comes back, we're going to have a lot of guys coming back. ...' D'Antoni said. 'Hopefully we can stay within striking distance to at least give ourselves a chance going down the stretch and try to salvage the season.'
NOTES: With Bryant not close to returning from his fractured left knee, the Lakers already have been bumped from two nationally scheduled telecasts on the original cable schedule - Jan. 8 at Houston (ESPN) and Jan. 20 at Chicago (TNT). ... The Jazz already have lost a league-worst 19 games by double-digit margins, just two fewer than they did all of last season. ... Utah, which came in 17th in the league in 3-point shooting percentage at 34.9, came up empty on its first nine attempts from behind the arc before Richard Jefferson connected with 4:04 left in the second quarter.
The Associated Press News Service
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