The waiting wore on Clark.
Coming to the Lakers as part of the Howard trade in August didn't do much to change Clark's fortunes.
"Ultimately for guys like Earl it's about finding your niche and understanding who you are and this is an opportunity where he can kind of figure that out," said Kerr, now an analyst for TNT. "He needs to be a defender and rebounder first and a scorer second and as long as he understands that he's going to be fine."
Like most 25-year-olds, Clark doesn't have all the answers. He told reporters earlier this month that the Lakers' next game was against Miami when it was actually against Milwaukee, and he once sprinted toward the locker room after the first quarter, thinking it was halftime.
Clark also found himself defending Miami's LeBron James and Chris Bosh last week on his birthday, laughing as his teammates ribbed him about James' pinning a dunk attempt against the backboard.
"He's still just Earl," Brenda Clark said.
That means he continues to work at all hours to improve. He has brought game-like intensity to practices and altered his shot to get a quicker release during marathon sessions with assistant coach Darvin Ham and player development coach Phil Handy.
"With the success he's had in recent games, human nature is to tend to scale back a little bit," Ham said. "Oh, I'm getting minutes now, I need to rest a little bit. Nah. Not him, man. He's taken full advantage of the opportunity and he wants to make sure he plays well."
He also intends to keep the Lakers' practice facility as his favorite late-night haunt.
"We don't really practice hard here in the NBA," he said, "so I like to go in and get a good sweat, get my shots up so I can be prepared to knock them down."
He's finally getting his chance. His parents are already planning a return trip to L.A. to hear the sweetest words they could imagine.
Starting at forward, in his fourth season from Louisville, No. 6 . . .