The Los Angeles Lakers sent seldom used reserves Ryan Kelly and Tarik Black, as well as rookie Anthony Brown, down to their D-League affiliate, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, on Saturday. Due to the convenience of the D-Fenders playing their games at the Lakers' practice facility, the trio of assignees were able to get into uniform and play in the team's Saturday night loss to the Bakersfield Jam.
The D-Fenders were competitive for most of the contest, but the Jam were able to pull away in the fourth quarter, and despite some late attempts at heroics, Los Angeles fell 95-89 despite big nights from two of the three Lakers on assignment.
Kelly once again proved to be a versatile scorer at the D-League level, pouring in 33 points on 11-21 shooting to go with 4 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. When Kelly wasn't getting to the free throw line, where he made 9 of his 11 attempts on the night, he was alternating between using the threat of his outside shot to drive to the basket for his trademark unorthodox but effective finishes:
Or setting up those opportunities by knocking down his jumper:
As evidenced by his four blocks, Kelly even flashed a bit of rim protection on the night:
Overall it was a great night for the the White Raven. His mom certainly enjoyed getting to see her son light up the Jam:
Kelly does not have a spot in the Lakers' rotation right now, with Larry Nance, Jr. and Julius Randle speaking for all of the team's minutes at the four, but he can play a little bit and will likely find at least one more contract in the league.
Tarik Black continued his new habit of compiling monster box scores with the D-Fenders, scoring 19 points on 7-10 shooting to go with a historic 19 rebounds and 4 blocks. Black scored the majority of his points on cleaning things up around the rim:
Or by rolling to the basket and finishing:
Black also flashed an improved jump-shot that he has clearly been working on after taking just 8.1% of his shots outside of the paint in his rookie season:
There is still a bit of a delay on his release, but Black's jumper at least looks competent now. A bit further improvement in that area would be huge for his career. On the other end of the floor, Black showed he still protects D-League rims like a rabid junkyard dog:
Black's timing and help instincts are both good around the rim, and even with Bass playing a bit better of late, one has to think Black (who is still just 24-years old) will begin to take at least a few of the Lakers' minutes at the backup five.
The' assignee that has actually gotten some minutes with the Lakers in recent weeks before being sent down is rookie small forward Anthony Brown. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was Brown who also had the most forgettable performance of the trio. The Lakers' 2015 second round pick initially looked a bit tired to begin the game but played a bit better defensively in the second half and finished with 9 points on 13 shots, 5 rebounds, 1 block, and 5 fouls in 34 minutes.
Brown played best off of his fellow Lakers, getting to the basket and finishing in traffic on this give-and-go with Kelly:
Or hitting a pull-up jumper when Black's screen gave him a sliver of airspace:
Brown will have to continue to work on those aspects of his offensive game to stay on the floor at times his shot is not falling (1-7 on three-pointers on Saturday night after making his only attempt the night before), but the Lakers drafted him primarily for his defensive potential. While Brown looked lethargic at times after playing the night before, he still was able to show how he can use his lateral quickness and length to prevent baskets when he erased this Terrico White shot attempt despite White having a full head of steam:
The other notable player from a Lakers perspective who did not have a good game was Robert Upshaw (2 points on 2 shots, 3 rebounds, 1 block, and 3 turnovers, ), who fell back to earth after the strongest four-game stretch of his young career. Upshaw's minutes were always going to be partially limited by the presence of Black, but the undrafted 7-footer also battled foul trouble throughout the night, committing 4 in just 11 minutes on the floor. A few of Upshaw's fouls were of the unnecessary variety, like being a little too jumpy when trying to stay with a guard on a switch and lunging to allow them to draw easy free throws:
Or even just plain silly, like bumping Jam center Mac Koshwal in transition:
Those are mistakes Upshaw will have to learn to avoid, but the night was not all bad. In the first quarter, Upshaw demonstrated impressive perimeter defense when switched onto Jam guard Askia Booker:
None of these four guys are going to individually improve the parent team by a tremendous amount this season, but as long as so many players of relevance are suiting up for the D-Fenders, the Lakers' D-League affiliate is worth keeping tabs on.
All stats courtesy of nba.com or dleague.nba.com