Lakers rookie Max Christie says he’ll learn from blunder late in loss to Kings
Max Christie found himself in an inevitable position, the Lakers rookie just trying to make the right play — and more so, just the idea of the first-year guard playing in the fourth quarter when the game hung in the balance somewhat surprising in itself.
Christie actually was more than solid during his 27 minutes and 10 seconds, his 12 points helping the short-handed Lakers stay close in a tight game they eventually lost to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena.
But the play that stands out was his foul with 5.0 seconds left and the Lakers down 112-111, a foul Christie really had no choice but to make, and in many regards, one he made because of his basketball “instincts.”
Kendrick Nunn had just made a three-pointer with seven seconds left to pull the Lakers to within a point. The Lakers trapped all over the court and forced De’Aaron Fox to give the ball up. Fox threw the ball ahead to Richaun Holmes, who was ahead of all the Lakers at half court. Christie ran and grabbed Holmes from the back, committing a foul to stop the clock.
The problem was Christie was called for a clear-path foul — which the officials reviewed and allowed to stand — giving Holmes two free throws.
He made both for a 114-111 Kings lead. Under the clear-path foul rules, Sacramento got the ball back. Trey Lyles was fouled, leading to him making two free throws for the final 116-111 margin.
“I mean, honestly, I just went with my instincts,” Christie said. “He obviously did have a clear path to the rim but time was running out and we were down so I just felt like … I just had to go foul him in some way. Unfortunately, it was a clear-path foul. I tried to get in front but I wasn’t able to. But it’s a good lesson for me to learn, being put into that situation on the fly for the first time. I’ve never been in that situation before. So, I’ll learn from it and watch the film and see what I could have done different.”
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LeBron James, a 20-year veteran, understood why his young teammate fouled in that moment.
“Giving up on a play, you got guys that’s already ahead of you. You just take a foul,” James said. “And Max was doing what he thought was the right thing. He probably hasn’t … I don’t think he’s been in that position at all in his rookie season. He sees a center breaking away, got the ball out of their best player’s hands, so he’s gonna take a foul. But he also didn’t see Harrison Barnes to the right that was ahead of him. So that’s the hard part of the play. But the best teacher in life is experience, and he was able to experience that tonight.”
Christie found himself in this position because Lakers coach Darvin Ham had faith in him.
Christie played 9:46 in the fourth quarter, making a three-pointer in the final frame to pull the Lakers within 98-97.
“It’s definitely a lot of confidence, knowing how the coaches and teammates have trusted me to be out there in those type of crunch-time moments, especially in my rookie year,” Christie said. “I can learn a lot of things. I’m just being out there getting comfortable in those situations. But it’s definitely a confidence booster when I’m out there with those guys in that type of game.”
Help on the boards
The Lakers had issues with the Kings on the backboards, giving up way too many.
The Lakers were outrebounded 47-36. Worse, the Kings had 14 offensive rebounds, leading to 20 second-chance points.
“They outcompeted us there,” Wenyen Gabriel said. “We was out there fighting for rebounds, but they came up with more of those. They beat us up on the boards tonight. That’s something that’s hard to recover from, especially with games coming down to one, two points, especially if you seen our last two games. Every possession matters.”