Tarik Black plays hard, makes a difference

LOS ANGELES -- Midway through the third quarter Friday, Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott saw two of his forwards not running nearly as hard as he believed they should be.

So Scott benched both Ed Davis and Jordan Hill and replaced them with Carlos Boozer and, in a more interesting move, rookie Tarik Black, whom the Lakers recently acquired off waivers from Houston.

"I thought he could bring us energy," Scott said of Black, who was key in the Lakers' 101-84 win over the Orlando Magic. "And that's what he did."

Indeed, the surprise of the night was Black, who in his Staples Center debut scored 14 points on 4-of-4 shooting (6-of-7 from the free throw line) to go along with nine rebounds in 17 minutes, all of them coming in the second half.

"Just came in with a ton of energy," Scott said. "That's how he plays. It really elevated everybody else."

Lakers reserve guard Nick Young shares a locker next to Black and praised the young forward.

"He was an animal out there," Young said.

Added Jeremy Lin, "That was awesome, man. That was awesome."

Black sat at his locker surrounded by a large scrum of reporters. Though he doesn't yet have a nameplate, Black gushed about how thankful he was just to play for the Lakers.

"God brought me this far," Black said, "and I don't think he brought me this far to fail. ... It's a blessing to play in Houston. I'm very grateful to that organization. No bad blood at all. It's a business decision. I knew what happened. It took place and it was onto the next phase and the next thing to come and it was the blessing of coming here."

Black also agreed with Scott's perception that Black's style is based on energy.

"That's just my thing. I play with a lot of energy and as far as rebounds go, I just seek the ball," Black said. "When the ball goes up, I see it and I go get it. That's been my thing my whole time since I got in the NBA."

According to Scott, the Lakers knew before the 6-foot-11 Black joined their team that he was a "big, strong, athletic physical big man. That's what we saw. I had some other questions about him as far as basketball IQ and things like that. And everything we got back was very positive."

Scott said Black has acclimated well, even though he has been with the Lakers for about two weeks.

"He's picked up everything extremely well and extremely fast," Scott said. "That's why in the second half I didn't hesitate to put him in."

Scott said he doesn't worry if there's a logjam at the forward position with Black, Davis, Boozer, Hill and Robert Sacre.

"Shuffle them in and out and whoever plays the hardest and best, plays," Scott said. "Pretty simple."

Black doesn't seem to mind.

"If that's what Coach wants, then we'll abide by it," Black said.

And what about the message sent to both Hill and Davis, who didn't play in the fourth quarter?

"Play harder," Scott said.