Jordan Farmar now comfortable in his role

March, 1, 2014
Mar 1
12:05
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- When Jordan Farmar left the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent close to four years ago, perhaps the biggest determining factor was him wanting to escape his lot as a young, up-and-coming point guard feeling stifled while having to play backup to the older, more established Derek Fisher.

With that in mind, it was awfully striking to hear Farmar's response Friday night after the six-year veteran scored a career-high 30 points in a 126-122 win over the Sacramento Kings when asked if he had any thought about continuing to play backup point guard for Lakers the second time around.

"I don't care," Farmar said. "I don't care, man. It's just trying to play good basketball when I'm in there, have fun with whoever is out there on the floor with me."

By Farmar, 27, accepting his role backing up the 22-year-old Kendall Marshall, not only is he helping out Marshall -- who is 1-for-15 from the field in his last four starts -- from losing whatever confidence he has left by being benched, he's thrusting the newly acquired MarShon Brooks into a thriving role.

[+] EnlargeJordan Farmar
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesLakers point guard Jordan Farmar enjoyed career highs with 30 points and eight 3-pointers against the Kings, all while making those around him shine.

Brooks scored 23 against the Kings, with 11 of those points coming in the fourth quarter when he and Farmar played all 12 minutes together in the backcourt to close out the game. Brooks finished the game 3-for-3 on 3-pointers, Farmar set a career high from deep by going 8-for-10, and the Lakers as a team set a franchise record for most 3s made in a regulation game, going 19-for-27 (70.4 percent).

"I like playing with MarShon," Farmar said. "I know he's a great kid. He can really play. I want to see him do well."

Maybe it's a little odd for Farmar to call someone only two years his junior a "kid." Then again, he and Brooks go back to when Farmar left L.A. for the grass-is-greener New Jersey Nets.

Farmar was in the process of starting all over. Brooks was just getting started in the NBA as a rookie.

When Brooks was traded from the Golden State Warriors to the Lakers at the deadline, he said his mind immediately thought of his former teammate, even though it was Kobe Bryant whom Brooks grew up modeling his game after.

"Right away," Brooks said when asked how long it took for it to dawn on him that he'd be reunited with Farmar. "Promise you, right away. Because it had nothing to do with basketball, really. It was just a good guy. We joked, played around even when we was on the Nets. He sat next to me on the plane. He was one of the guys I was close with."

Brooks said the two fell out of touch once Farmar went to play overseas in Israel and then Turkey, but he kept tabs on his old teammate by following him on Instagram.

Yet when they found themselves sharing a basketball court again?

"As soon as I seen him," Brooks said, "it's like we never left each other."

[+] EnlargeMarShon Brooks
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

MarShon Brooks and Farmar played together with the Nets and have combined again recently in the Lakers backcourt to fine levels of success.

Friday was the second straight game that the two fed off each other, coming a couple of nights after they combined for 30 points and six assists in Memphis as the Lakers nearly upset the Grizzlies on the road.

"He trusts me that I make the right play with the ball," Brooks said. "And that's the main thing from a point guard, just having that trust. Because he's running the show. When you get the ball as a shooting guard, he's like, 'OK, I'm going to give it to you. Don't settle. Make something happen.'

"And when you can trust the point guard, that's huge."

And as long as Farmar is taking care of Brooks, Brooks is taking care of Farmar.

"On the break, the first thing I'm looking for, I'm looking for Jordan and then I'm kind of looking for myself," Brooks said. "Especially if he's on that wing, or in that corner. He's pretty much wet."

With 23 games left in the season and 12 players on the team looking for new contracts, one could conceive that alliances are being formed like on an elimination-style reality show.

As if Farmar is looking out for Pau Gasol, the guy with whom he won two championships. Or he's looking out for his boyhood friend, Nick Young, if and when Young ever gets back on the court. And now he's looking out for Brooks, too, saving him a seat at the table.

But this seems more altruistic than that. Farmar is one of those guys facing free agency, but he is also taking his responsibility as a point guard to heart. Fundamentally, a point guard is supposed to put others' needs above his own.

"I think he's definitely a more mature point guard and player," Gasol said of the difference in Farmar now in his second stint with the team. "He's got great poise. Too bad that he had the hamstring issues this season, that it didn't really give him a lot of continuity, because I think it would have been great if he would have been able to stay healthy."

And there's the rub. You can't tell Farmar's story without mentioning that he has missed more than 30 games this season because of multiple tears in his left hamstring. He walked away from $3 million in guaranteed money overseas to slog through this season, too. Talk about adding insult to injury.

But he's doing his duty as a point guard. Eternally trying to spread some sunshine, even on a rainy night in downtown L.A.

"Just trying to have fun, man," Farmar said. "It's been a really tough year and trying to find some joy in the game and give us something to be proud and positive about -- and the fans, as well."

It might not have been the way he would have scripted it, but Farmar is finally becoming the player he left L.A. in the first place to become.

"We have a very young group, and he's not one of the young ones anymore," Gasol said. "So, he feels like being a point guard and being somewhat of a veteran; he feels comfortable to be able to speak up and the guys will listen."

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0