On New Year's Eve, Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott called his team in for an early afternoon practice following a promising win in Denver on Tuesday night.
Two reasons to hold this practice were Ryan Kelly and Tarik Black. Kelly has struggled to only take part in three games this season due to unrelenting hamstring issues. The second-year power forward now appears to be on the brink of returning, and the Lakers are hopeful that he will be available for the remainder of the season.
On Wednesday, Kelly went through practice and suffered no setbacks. The plan is to have Kelly practice on Thursday, take part in shoot-around on Friday morning and be available on Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
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Along with testing Kelly, the team is working hard to integrate their newest member of the squad. Black was acquired off waivers and went through his first practice on Wednesday. Although the center dressed against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, he was unable to get into the game.
"It was great," Black said after his first practice. "It felt good to get there on the floor with the team."
Black said the crash course was going well and that he was growing comfortable with the offense, terminology and play calling. After the others wrapped up, Scott and his assistants spent extra time with the new addition running through sets. And yes, Scott was stroking shots during the walk-through with the new player.
"He was knocking it down, especially yesterday at shoot-around," Black said about his coach.
If all goes according to plan, Scott will have 13 players to choose from going into Friday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
On the subject of the Grizzlies, former Memphis forward Ed Davis suffered a broken nose during the fourth quarter of the Lakers' win in Denver. Davis was at practice with a giant bandage on his face.
"I'm going to try to practice in a mask tomorrow and in the game on Friday," Davis said. "But if I miss a couple shots, I'm going to take it off."
Shooting 63 percent on the season, Davis doesn't miss often and leads the team in field goal percentage.