The bright lights of Staples Center are shining down on Darius Morris, and the 21 year-old point guard is shining back. The second-year guard is starting on a veteran team alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard.
With Steve Nash and Steve Blake out injured, the Los Angeles native is making the most of his time in the spotlight.
Last season, Morris earned a shimmer of that light when Steve Blake was out injured. During an 11-day span in January, Morris played in seven straight games. During that stretch, he had his best statistical outing in a big game against the Clippers.
In the loss to the crosstown rivals, Morris played 24 minutes, scored seven points, and handed out four assists. However, he also had two turnovers, and Morris’ time on the floor yielded negative six points on the plus/minus statistic.
Still, Morris had shown promise in a big rivalry game, so former Lakers coach Mike Brown gave him consistent bench minutes for the next four games.
Unfortunately, Morris never came close to approaching the level of play he briefly displayed against the Clippers. It became apparent he was not yet ready.
This season, the injury to Steve Nash resulted in Morris getting his first shot against the Clippers, once again. In 13 minutes, Morris matched his previous career-high of seven points on a night when the entire Lakers team looked ragged.
Morris’ seven points led the Lakers bench in scoring, so Brown decided to use him again. In the next game, Morris showed promise, and the Lakers beat Detroit. However, against Utah, he had a bad night.
Morris shot 1-of-6 from the field to contribute to a 34-percent shooting night for the Lakers in Salt Lake City. The difficult road loss would be Mike Brown’s final game as head coach of the Lakers.
Interim-coach Bernie Bickerstaff, fortunately, didn’t give up on “the kid,” as Bernie refers to him. With Blake playing through an abdominal injury, Bernie threw away the script and threw “the kid” on the stage.
Against Golden State, Blake’s foul trouble guaranteed Morris time with the starting unit, and Morris took advantage of his superstar options. He set new career highs with 26 minutes, 10 points, and five assists. Since then, Morris has stepped into the interim-starter role and bested all three of those careers marks.
After scoring a new career-high of 12 points in Sunday’s win over Houston, a member of the media congratulated Morris on setting a new career-high. Morris genuinely asked, “What? For points?”
With Morris seemingly breaking personal records every night, the only record “the kid” is worried about is the team record.