The Los Angeles Lakers have injuries up the yin yang and are in danger of slipping out of the heated playoff race in the Western Conference, so it was likely only a matter of time before head coach Mike D’Antoni turned to new players to try and create some sort of a spark.
With the heavily-favored Miami Heat in town, D’Antoni finally gave in and put rookie Ryan Kelly into the game…a lot.
Kelly, who developed into a fine perimeter option and versatile defender at Duke, gave the Lakers seventeen minute of decent basketball, finishing with 4 points, a rebound, and an assist. It isn’t anything to go home and brag about, sure, but for it being the first extended look of Kelly’s career, it was passable.
The low point in Kelly’s performance came when D’Antoni switched him to LeBron on defense, which worked about as well as my will power did when tasked with resisting Christmas dessert after Christmas dessert.
Still, Kelly was pretty pumped about the whole ordeal:
Ryan Kelly (4 points and a rebound in 17 minutes) says guarding LeBron was a “dream come true.” He joins @LAIreland coming up.
— TWC SportsNet (@TWCSportsNet) December 26, 2013
As far as what this means moving forward, all we can do is speculate. Chris Kaman is definitely the more reliable and experienced option, but Kelly brings more versatility and a better fit for D’Antoni’s offense to the table.