Jordan Hill was the Lakers' second-best player going into December. Now he's not even the second-best player in their frontcourt.
Hill has been rolling downhill since the calendar turned from November, his double-doubles replaced almost entirely by single-singles. His oft-touted energy motor officially stalled with a one-rebound effort Sunday in the Lakers' loss to Phoenix.
"This month, watching him on film, the intensity's not there," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said. "I don't know if he's tired. But he's 20-what years old?"
Scott added that "it could be the league has kind of figured him out as well."
Or maybe Hill, 27, played well over his head when he averaged 13.9 points and 9.7 rebounds last month, collecting nine double-doubles. He's averaging 10.6 points and 6.2 rebounds this month with three double-doubles.
This was always going to be a tough transition for Hill, who played a career-high 21 minutes a game last season under Coach Mike D'Antoni and still had trouble maintaining energy beyond a few short bursts.
Now he's up to 29 minutes a game, almost 12 more than his career average.
"We have to get him back to playing that [energetic] way, and I don't know how we do that right now," Scott said, adding that a minutes reduction might be necessary.
Hill's recovery time also has been slower than expected.
"He's not recovering in that 24 hours or 48 hours, whatever the case may be, as fast as we want him to or as fast as his body should," Scott said. "It's something that we've just got to try to figure out."
Black officially arrives
Hill could lose time to Robert Sacre or rookie Tarik Black if he doesn't improve soon.
The latter arrived Monday at the Lakers' training facility and introduced himself to Scott, General Manager Mitch Kupchak and some teammates.
Black was claimed off waivers Sunday by the Lakers after Houston cut him to make room for Josh Smith.
He won't play Tuesday in Denver but might see time Friday against Memphis, Scott said.
"Growing up and playing basketball, you look at the team with the most NBA championships, a team with a vast history of great players, from guards to bigs, and a whole array of greatness just surrounds this place," Black said. "Hopefully I can just come in and be a part of it."
Technically, the Boston Celtics have 17 titles to the Lakers' 16, but Lakers fans won't mind the fuzzy math.
Black, 23, started 12 games for the Rockets while Dwight Howard was sidelined by injuries. He averaged 4.2 points and 5.1 rebounds after being undrafted out of Kansas.
Black also said he loved playing defense, which happened to be a desperate need for the Lakers. The NBA lists Black as 6 feet 11, but he's a bit shorter than the 6-10 Ed Davis.
How tall is he really?
"In shoes, 6-foot-9," he said. "That's not something I did myself, it's just the way it came out."