On January 16th, the L.A. Lakers announced that they had signed the D-Fenders' Manny Harris to a 10-day contract. He played his first game with the Lakers just a day later and in 22 minutes off the bench, he scored seven points on 2-for-7 shooting from the floor. Over his next four games, he did much of the same, averaging 6.3 points on 31.3 percent shooting and while those numbers won't blow you away, the Lakers saw enough from the former Wolverine to sign him to a second 10-day contract. Following that news, Harris showed his appreciation in a big way, scoring 18 points under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden in a close loss to the New York Knicks.
It may have taken Harris a few games to find his feet in the NBA, but in his final four appearances with the Lakers, he looked much more comfortable and his on-court production showed that. However, despite giving them some strong minutes off the bench in his three weeks with the team, the Lakers opted not to sign him for the remainder of the season and let him go on February 5th. Some of that may have had to do with the return of many of their guards - Steve Nash, Jordan Farmer and Steve Blake were all previously out with injuries - but it seemed odd that they wouldn't keep him around, as Keith Schlosser previously pointed out on this site.
In wake of the news, Harris returned to the D-Fenders, where he was previously leading the D-League with an average of 30.6 points per game. In the week leading up to his call-up, he scored a total on 129 points on 60 percent shooting in three games. It was only a matter of time until an NBA team came knocking on his door.
On Saturday night against the Santa Cruz Warriors, Harris played in his first game since leaving the Lakers and he made a big statement. In 42 minutes, the Michigan Mamba scored a season-high 56 points on 20-for-39 shooting, breaking a franchise record, previously set by himself on January 10th. He also knocked down five threes and converted on 11-of-12 free throws. To go along with that gaudy stat-line, he pulled down 16 rebounds and dished out four assists.
While Harris was a steady force for the D-Fenders all night, he was at his best in the fourth quarter, when he scored 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting. After a couple of early baskets by the Warriors to start the period, the D-Fenders' lead was cut to just three points. But with every made shot by the Warriors, it seemed as though Harris had an answer.
His biggest shot of the night came with just under six minutes remaining in regulation. Following an alley-oop to Joe Alexander on the fast-break which nearly brought the house down, Harris silenced the crowd with a pull-up three over the outstretched arms of the 6-foot-9 Dominic McGuire to push their lead to nine. After that, the D-Fenders didn't look back and went on to win by a final score of 121-107.
Following his huge performance, Santa Cruz Warriors head coach Casey Hill said, "That's a heck of a stat-line. Yeah, I think [Manny Harris] deserves to be in the NBA. I think he'll get some sort of a look after that game." While it's unlikely that Harris will get a call-up before the weekend, you can expect him to put on a big performance when he represents the Futures team in-front of NBA officials during the D-League All-Star game on Saturday night. And if he has a good weekend in New Orleans, who knows? Maybe a team in need of a scoring punch like the Lakers will give him a call. We'll just have to wait and see how it pans out.
To listen to Manny Harris' post-game interview, head on over to SeaDubsCentral.com.