Despite key performances from Lakers assignment players Elias Harris (18 points two rebounds, two assists) and Ryan Kelly (24 points, nine rebounds), the D-Fenders dropped their season opener against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers 124-114.
Kelly scored 21 of his points in the second half after battling foul trouble in the first two quarters.
“It took me awhile to get adjusted,” Kelly said. “I just had to figure things out and continue to be aggressive.”
Meanwhile, Harris helped paced the D-Fenders in the first half with 15 points before fouling out early in the fourth quarter.
Postgame, the Gonzaga product believed he could have played much better in all aspects of his game, particularly on the defensive end. When on assignment, Harris sees this as a time to craft the work he puts in with the Lakers development coaches.
“With the Lakers, we work a lot individually and it’s a perfect time to try it in the game and see if it works for me or not,” Harris said. “It’s a good experience for me here in the D-League.”
For Kelly, it was his first look at extended game action since his senior year in college after sitting out all of summer league and playing a total of 33 minutes during the preseason, and seven minutes through the team’s first 13 contests.
Overall, he said he felt fine physically and sees this as a chance to work on different parts of his game.
“It’s a matter of getting minutes on the floor and having an opportunity to work on my game and get better in every aspect,” he said. “I have a set role with the Lakers, and I want to continue to grow in that. But when I step on the floor with the D-League team, I can look to create more and be a little of a different player – the player I want to be eventually for the Lakers.”