So while the Los Angeles Lakers were taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder, I had a chance to cover the South Bay Lakers (the L.A. Lakers’ G-League affiliate) at the UCLA Health Training Center as they took on the Iowa Wolves (the Minnesota Timberwolves’ G-League affiliate).
The South Bay Lakers were 16-10 coming into this game while the Wolves were 13-11. Of note, the Wolves had ex-Lakers Anthony Brown and Shawne Williams on the roster. The Wolves also have Amile Jefferson from Duke, who recently signed a two-way contract with the Timberwolves, and Elijah Millsap, who spent time with the Jazz and the Suns and is Paul Millsap’s brother. Perry Jones III is also on the team but was out with an injury.
As we know, second round pick Thomas Bryant is with the South Bay Lakers. Former Knick and UCLA Bruin Travis Wear is also on the team as well as ex-Houston Rocket Scott Machado.
Unfortunately, the Wolves jumped on them from the start. The Wolves got off to a 19-6 lead and never really looked back. I can’t say I’ve watched a lot of the G-League but it was easy to notice how much the pace of the game stood out. I was informed that this was the norm for them. The Wolves hit threes early while the South Bay Lakers struggled to make shots. The halftime score was 67-53 in favor of the Wolves and the lead kept growing from there. The South Bay Lakers only scored 36 points in the second half and the Wolves walloped them from start to end with the final score of 123-89.
Elijah Millsap kept hitting three-pointers (5/7) and finished with a team-high 23 points for the Wolves. Amile Jefferson couldn’t be stopped inside; he had 22 points (10/12 FG) and 15 boards. The aforementioned former Lakers did well, too; Anthony Brown had 16 points while Shawne Williams had 13.
As for the South Bay Lakers (who finished with 38 percent shooting), they were led by Travis Wear, who had 18 points. Thomas Bryant got off to a good start but did not attempt a field goal in the second half. He finished with seven points and five boards.
All-in-all, not a great game by the G-League Lakers. I did get to have a short conversation with Thomas Bryant after the game.
FORUM BLUE & GOLD: “We just saw the game. We see the score. What bothered you about this game the most?”
THOMAS BRYANT: “Our defensive intensity. Our defense has to be there throughout everything, even if our shots aren’t falling and we’re not getting calls out there.”
FB&G: “You didn’t seem to get the ball much in the second half. You shot well early out there. What happened?”
TB: “I feel like (the Wolves) focused a little bit more on me. We were looking for other people to step up. But I have to step up as well, just being more vocal. Being one of the leaders for this team, I have to step up even more.”
FB&G: “You’ve played a few games with the Los Angeles Lakers. Did you feel any sort of culture shock? Feel any differences between the G-League and the NBA?”
TB: “Not really a culture shock. I just try to bring everything I learned from the Los Angeles Lakers down here to the South Bay Lakers.”
FB&G: “Lastly, what are you working on while you’re down here in the G-League?”
TB: “Just working on my all-around game. Both on the offensive and defensive end. Trying my best to become a two-way player.”
The South Bay Lakers take on the Rio Grande Valley Vipers next on Friday. Hopefully, they have a much better showing there.
*We’d like to thank Noah Camarena, the media relations coordinator of the South Bay Lakers, for giving us this opportunity to cover the team.