The Los Angeles Lakers turned to a new starter on Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks due to an injury to Cam Reddish. Darvin Ham’s choice was second-year guard Max Christie starting alongside D’Angelo Russell, Taurean Prince, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
It was a losing effort in total for L.A., as a late comeback fell short and the Lakers dropped just their second game in eight outings. And Christie, in 23 minutes, struggled to get things going joining the starting five. He finished with seven points on 3-for-7 from the field and was a game-low minus-19.
However, Davis is not phased by the difficulties in his first start of the season. He spoke about what he likes from Christie and how the young guard can help the team this season.
“Versatility, he can shoot the basketball, play off the dribble, can defend. He looked really good in his first start. Obviously there’s some things that we can clean up as a group and individually but I think for Max, he did a good job. Throwing him in the fire and having to guard great players in Luka and Kyrie, it’s a team effort on the defensive end, but his one-on-one individual effort, he did a great job.”
One of the many things that Davis and James have been great at during their time leading the Lakers is their ability to encourage and get the most out of younger players. They helped Austin Reaves become a regular rotation player in his rookie season, and could potentially do the same with Christie as the year goes on.
Ham turning to Christie when Reddish was ruled out shows the type of faith the Lakers have in him to make leaps this season. It won’t always be pretty or have the best outcome, but learning experiences like that are only going to grow him as a player and emphasize the things that Davis praised him for.
Jaxson Hayes praised for play vs. Mavericks
Another unexpected minute-getter in Wednesday’s loss to the Mavericks was center Jaxson Hayes. He played most of his minutes in the fourth quarter when the Lakers staged a 20-point comeback, and he received praise from Darvin Ham for his efforts.
“I mean, it just, it’s that period of the process of discovery, right? And you just have to throw guys out there,” Ham said. “See what you’re gonna get especially this early in the season.
“Again, we keep mentioning those first 20 games you’re trying to find out what you’re made up of individually, which guys can handle what type of situation and what circumstances and I thought he did great. He infused some energy into our lineup and that fourth quarter did a great job moving his feet, rebounds, changing shots, everything. And so I thought he did a phenomenal job under the circumstances.”
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