Max Christie was in an unavoidable spot, the Lakers rookie striving to do the right thing as the game hung in the balance. Even more startling was the fact that the first-year guard was even on the court in the fourth quarter.
Christie was more than adequate in his 27 minutes and 10 seconds of action, scoring 12 points to help the Lakers stay competitive against the Sacramento Kings despite playing with a depleted roster on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena.
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The most memorable play, though, was Christie’s foul with 5.0 seconds remaining and the Lakers down 112-111. He had no choice but to make the foul, and he did it based on what may be called his basketball “instincts.”
With seven seconds left, the Lakers were behind by one point, but Kendrick Nunn hit a three-pointer to bring them back. Because of the Lakers’ aggressive trapping, De’Aaron Fox was compelled to hand over possession of the ball.
Fox passed the ball ahead to Richaun Holmes, who had gotten to half court before the rest of the Lakers. Time was stopped when Christie came up behind Holmes and seized him.
The officials reviewed the play and upheld the call of a clear-path foul against Christie, awarding Holmes two free throws.
He hit both, extending the Kings’ lead to 114-111. The clear-path foul regulations resulted in Sacramento receiving possession of the ball. Two free throws by Trey Lyles (after he was fouled) brought the final score to 116-111.
”Truthfully, I just went with my gut,” Christie remarked.
”He was in a position to score despite being fouled, but with time running out and our team down, I felt compelled to foul him nevertheless.
”It was a clear-path foul, which is always a bummer. I fought to go ahead of everyone but ultimately failed. But being thrust into that position on the fly is a great learning opportunity for me.
”Not like this has ever happened to me before. In order to gain insight into what went wrong, I plan to review the footage.”
Twenty-year veteran LeBron James recognised the situation and the reasons his younger teammate fouled.
When you give up on a play, the other team has already made progress. It’s a foul and you take it,” James added. And Max was acting in accordance with his moral convictions. I highly doubt that he has… To my knowledge, he has never been there in his freshman year.”
Christie got here because Lakers head coach Darvin Ham thought highly of him.
Christie scored a three-pointer in the last quarter to bring the Lakers within one point at 98-97, and he played 9:46 of the game’s final period.
To have the faith of one’s coaches and teammates, especially in one’s inaugural year, is “certainly a lot of confidence,” as Christie put it. Quite a bit of information is available to me. Right now I’m simply getting used to being in those settings by myself. But playing with those guys gives me a lot of self-assurance in that setting and in that kind of game.