A day after a difficult defeat to the Phoenix Suns, the Los Angeles Lakers reconvened at their facility for a practice session that did not involve Kobe Bryant.
Lakers coach Byron Scott sounded hopeful that his team was making strides defensively, but he admitted that talent was a factor. Injuries also obviously played a part, but the Lakers appeared close to jumping over that hurdle.
Ryan Kelly was able to go through a full practice, but Scott confirmed that Kelly would not play against the Denver Nuggets.
"[I'm] real happy with what he's able to do today," Scott said about Kelly. "We would like to get two more practices in, which is Wednesday and Thursday, and if those two go well along with shootaround tomorrow, then I would say Friday would be a day that he can definitely play."
Apart from Kelly and the long-term injuries to Steve Nash and Julius Randle, the Lakers have a fully healthy squad. Xavier Henry was on that list until Sunday, when the Lakers announced Henry had been waived to make space for center Tarik Black, who had been claimed off waivers.
Henry was at the Lakers' facility after practice let out, and he stopped by to talk to have a casual conversation with a couple reporters on the way out. Henry's replacement on the roster, Black, arrived shortly after practice let out, and the Los Angeles media was present to witness the player meet his coaches for the first time.
After the formalities, Black spoke with said media about the whirlwind that had brought him to Los Angeles.
"A whole array of greatness just surrounds this place," Black said about the honor of playing for the Lakers’ organization.
"What I base my game upon is defense,” the 23-year-old hit the right notes. "Defense wins championships. I know it's cliché, but it's true. What bad defensive team has ever won a championship?"
Black added, "That's my thing. I just want to come out here and be a defensive presence for the team and just give it some toughness and hopefully that can give us win."
The undrafted rookie sounded grateful for being in the NBA and being part of the Lakers. Black called playing with Bryant a "blessing" and touched on how impressed he was with Carlos Boozer when he saw the Lakers' power forward play on opening night.
Black also confirmed that he was 6-foot 9-inches in shoes, so his official height was off by a couple inches. However, the center said he had a 7-foot wing span, which certainly was an asset.
"I want my name to be written on these walls in some way, some shape form or fashion," Black added.
The rookie will be with the team in Denver, but he is not likely to get onto the court on Tuesday night, as he has not yet practiced with the team.
Black said his favorite player growing up was Amar'e Stoudemire. Black said he loved Stoudemire’s attitude. The rookie pointed out that Stoudemire would block, rebound, dunk or do anything that was needed of him. Black called it Stoudemire's "beast mentality."