The Los Angeles Lakers lost their 50th game of the season on Thursday night, as the Utah Jazz beat the Lakers 80-73 at Staples Center.
In one of the uglier games in recent memory, bustling and bruising rookie Tarik Black provided a scoring and rebounding presence in what could possibly be described as his best game to date. Facing the extra length of Rudy Gobert, Black did not back down from one of the most overpowering defensive figures in the NBA. Instead, the Lakers' rookie took on the challenge and threw down a couple monster slam dunks.
Black finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds to claim the third double-double of his career. He fell one point and one rebound shy of his career-highs in both categories. Going against Gobert, Black's performance stood out as special.
When NBCLA.com caught up with the rookie center and asked him if his strength helped him mentally cope with Gobert's size, the 23-year-old shared an interaction with player development coach Larry Lewis earlier in the day.
"[Lewis] told me that I don't understand how strong I really am, and I don't think I really do either," Black said. "I know I move guys, but I don't really feel like the strongest guy out there. Things happen for me, and I guess looking at it, it's kind of like, 'this guy is really strong.' But when I'm out there on the floor, it's not really like 'I'm the hulk.'"
Black tried to clarify his point, "That extra strength helps, but on another note, I don't really understand how strong I really am."
When asked about how Black compensated for the extra height he gave up to Gobert on the night, Lakers coach Byron Scott pointed directly to Black's physical characteristics.
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"I think brute strength has something to do with it," Scott responded.
Scott praised his rookie's defense, energy and athleticism. The coach pointed to Black's post-up game and his jump shot as areas to develop, and the rookie agreed with his coach's assessment.
"I kind of look at him in the same mold as Kenneth Faried--a guy that's all over the place, plays super hard," Scott said of Black. "His real true skill is how hard he plays."
Notes: Jeremy Lin played through back spasms, and his status for Sunday's game remains in doubt. Scott said Lin would likely only receive treatment on Friday in lieu of practice. The Lakers' coach also said rookie Jabari Brown would likely be signed to a second 10-day contract. Rookie Jordan Clarkson tabbed eight points and eight assists, the latter of which was a personal best.