Lakers’ Luol Deng considered questionable for Thursday’s game in Portland

Lakers forward Luol Deng is listed as questionable to play in Thursday's game against Portland.  ( Photo by Stephen Carr / LA Daily News / SCNG )

Lakers forward Luol Deng is listed as questionable to play in Thursday’s game against Portland. ( Photo by Stephen Carr / LA Daily News / SCNG )

PORTLAND — As Lakers coach Luke Walton has experimented with various lineups amid injuries and inconsistent performances, one development has not changed.

Lakers veteran forward Luol Deng has started in every game. That could end, though, when the Lakers (13-25) play the Portland Trail Blazers (15-25) on Thursday at Moda Center. The Lakers listed Deng as questionable after nursing right bicep tendinitis in recent days.

Deng said he has felt better since first nursing the injury during Tuesday’s win against the Memphis Grizzlies. But he still missed Wednesday’s practice and Thursday’s morning shootaround. If Deng sits out tonight’s game, it appears likely Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram would start in his place.

After the Lakers acquired the 12-year NBA veteran during the offseason on a four-year, $72 million deal, Deng has posted career-lows in points (7.9) and shooting percentage (38.7 percent). Though Deng went on a recent stretch where he scored in double digits in nine out of 10 games, he has averaged 6.0 points on 33.3 percent shooting in the last five contests.

The Lakers also listed reserve guard Jordan Clarkson as probable to play against Portland after nursing a right elbow contusion. But Clarkson completed morning shootaround on Thursday without any limitations.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@scng.com

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Jerald Acoba hits half-court shot to win $95,000

LOS ANGELES — The shot banked off the backboard and into the basket. The player then pointed to his forearm say that he has “ice in his veins.”

Another game in which Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell made a clutch shot? Not exactly. The Lakers secured a 116-102 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday at Staples Center partly because Russell had 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range, six assists and four rebounds.

Instead, it was 30-year-old Jerald Acoba, of Tulare, CA., who performed the celebration. He made a half-court shot between the third and fourth quarter to win $95,000. He then performed the gesture Russell often does when making a dramatic shot. Russell, Julius Randle and Nick Young promptly greeted him with high fives.

“That feels great,” Russell said. “It’s good to see a lot of kids and fans keeping that going, ‘Ice in the Veins,’ I appreciate everybody for that. That’s a lot of money. Take care of it.”

Aside from former Lakers center Vlade Divac, Acoba became the fifth winner to win the MGM Big Shot Jackpot since the Lakers started the promotion during the 2006-07 season. Acoba is also the second winner this season after Travis Milne, of Santa Maria, CA won $35,000 for hitting a half-court shot on Nov. 6, 2016 when the Lakers hosted the Phoenix Suns.

The jackpot grew with each missed shots since Milne’s basket, resulting in extra earnings for Acoba.


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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers’ Luke Walton likes D’Angelo Russell’s progress since injury

Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after missing a last second shot over Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) during the 4th quarter at the Staples Center. Lakers lost 100-102 Los Angeles Calif., Tuesday, December ,27, 2016. ( Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News / SCNG )

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) reacts after missing a last second shot over Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) during the 4th quarter at the Staples Center. Lakers lost 100-102 Los Angeles Calif., Tuesday, December ,27, 2016. ( Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News / SCNG )

The ice may have always stayed in D’Angelo Russell’s veins through both hot and cold shooting nights. Unfortunately for Russell, issues still lingered in his left knee.

So even if Russell returned nearly three weeks ago reported feeling pain free after having a non-invasive procedure on his left knee, the Lakers’ starting point guard still faced limitations. He initially had minute restrictions to ease his workload. He initially shed rust. He initially fought shooting inconsistency. He initially seemed resigned toward settling for outside shots.

“When he first got back,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said, “clearly it didn’t look like he wanted to get in the paint at all, or make many too down-hill type of movements.”

But in the Lakers’ 123-114 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday at Staples Center, Russell appeared no longer shackled. He posted 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting, five assists and four rebounds, which marked his highest scoring output since posting a season-high 32 points on Nov. 15, 2016 against Brooklyn. Russell scored 14 of those points in the fourth quarter as he tried to help the Lakers in a comeback win. And Russell showed a healthy of mix of attacking the basket (3-of-6 from shots in the paint) and finding outside shots (6-of-12 from 3-point range).

“I just try to read the defense,” Russell said. “I feel I can get the shot anytime. I feel I can read the defense and attack it at the same time.”
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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram throws down dunk over Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas

The job usually requires the basketball player to possess lots of power as he bullies his way toward the rim. But as Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram proved in Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center, Ingram has shown off his strengths even if he lacks strength.

Ingram performed a pretty good imitation of reserve forward Larry Nance Jr. by driving to the basket and throwing down a one-handed dunk over Toronto forward Jonas Valanciunas.

“I’m just trying to be aggressive to the rim,” Ingram said. “I saw an opening so I just took it.”

Sounds simple enough. But Ingram managed to do that because of his vast wing span. It also illustrated his willingness to absorb physical contact even if he does not necessarily have the muscle in his 6-foot-9, 190-pound frame to bully defenders.

“Of course, you have to find a different way to get your shot off,” Ingram said. “It’s about getting to the rim and trying to get easy points and easy baskets. Laying the ball up was good for me.”


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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr. partners with BiPro

As he has leaped over helpless defenders and delivered thunderous dunks, Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. apparently has relied on a key ingredient to help him defy gravity.

It does not just involve his athleticism, his quick hops or his incredible timing. Like Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram, Nance has also frequently consumed BiPro, a whey protein isolate brand. Nance also partnered with BiPro, which says its protein water has 20 grams of protein, zero grams of sugar, zero grams of fat, zero grams of carbohydrate and 90 calories per bottle.

“As a power forward, I need as much strength and explosion as I can get when I’m on the court. The guys I go up against night after night are physical and imposing,” Nance said in a statement. “I recover from my workouts with BiPro to stay fresh and strong. That way, when I’ve got a path to the rim, I can finish a possession with a powerful dunk.”

Nance, who has had Crohn’s Disease since he was 16 years old, also found that BiPro’s ingredients matches his strict diet. It helped he took particular liking to the taste of the brand’s strawberry powder.

“I’ve done extensive research on protein supplements,” Nance said, “and found BiPro to be by far the best fit for me because of its high purity and minimal, natural ingredients.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram drinking BiPro to get stronger

Amid his never-ending quest to become stronger, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram has kept a few things in mind.

His 19-year-old body will fill out naturally with age. He has turned to weight-training exercises that focus more on developing lean muscle mass than worrying about becoming a body builder. And he has resisted the urge to eat ravenously for the sake of adding more pounds.

All of which explains the thought process behind Ingram using BiPro, a whey protein isolate brand, since last summer. The company says its protein water has 20 grams of protein, zero grams of sugar, zero grams of fat, zero grams of carbohydrate and 90 calories per bottle.

“The other protein drinks I tried were loaded with sugar and tasted chalky,” Ingram said in a statement. “BiPro was just really easy to drink and then I did some research and found out how pure it is. That’s when I knew BiPro was the right protein supplement to get ready for the season.”
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Lakers’ Luke Walton recently experimented playing Nick Young at power forward, and it worked

LOS ANGELES – The chuckling became as frequent as Nick Young’s productivity. This time, his smile had reasons other than his personality, a strong performance or eagerness to play in the game.

Young’s laughter also stemmed on who Lakers coach Luke Walton asked him to substitute for late in Sunday’s game against the Clippers on Sunday at Staples Center.

“You coming in for me?” Lakers forward Luol Deng asked.

“I guess,” Young said, smiling.

The two exchanged some more laughs because of the obvious implications. Deng insisted the lineup change was “cool,” and he was just “joking around” with Young. Yet, very few ever imagined Young ever playing at the power forward position.

But with forward Clippers Blake Griffin out with an injury right knee and center DeAndre Jordan out late in the game, Walton considered Young at that position for different reasons. He matched up with another wing player in Clippers forward Wesley Johnson. Young has remained both a consistent shooter and defender. And Walton wanted to give Deng some rest after already logging 34 minutes.

All of which made a difference in the Lakers’ 111-102 victory over the Clippers on Sunday at Staples Center.

“I try to do it all out there,” Young said, grinning after posting a team-leading 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting and two assists in 30 minutes.
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Lakers’ Nick Young conducts interview in Russian spa

After growing up in Los Angeles admiring Kobe Bryant’s every move, Lakers forward Nick Young soon experienced the difficult parts of playing with his childhood idol.

The two competed for shots. Bryant became annoyed with Young’s goofy side to his personality. And after capping his 20-year NBA career with a 60-point performance in the Lakers’ season finale of the 2015-16 season, Bryant threw Young’s Adidas shoes in the trash as a way to express his loyalty to Nike.

“He’s a hater; he’s a hater,” Young joked in an interview for go90 with Russian talk show host Nikolai Popov. “He took a lot of my shine.”

Young addresses other not-so-serious topics in the full episode. Young shares a not-so-believable story regarding his “Swaggy P” nickname. He raves about rapper Kendrick Lamar, who is Young’s cousin. And Young visits a Russian spa in what could partly account for his productive season thus far.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com

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Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell stars in ABC’s NBA Christmas games promo

Signs have emerged that show Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell could become a star. He throws dazzling passes. His outside shooting has emerged. The Lakers’ slide during his absence due to injury illustrated his importance.

Russell also had an increased profile, recently premiering in ABC’s NBA Christmas Day Promo that includes the Lakers playing a designated home game against the Clippers at Staples Center.

The promo, shown above, features a Christmas jingle based on “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” with “It’s the Most Dunkastic Time of the Year.” They then show countless flashy passes, 3-pointers, and powerful dunks that could happen in the slate of Christmas Day games, including Knicks-Celtics (ESPN, 9 a.m. PT), Cavaliers-Warriors (11:30 pm. PT, ABC), Bulls-Spurs (2 p.m PT, ABC), Timberwolves-Thunder, 5 p.m PT, ESPN) and Lakers-Clippers (7:30 pm PT, ESPN).

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mmedina@scng.com

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Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young unlikely to play vs. Knicks

Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell #1 backs into Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez #11 in the first half. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA 11/15/2016. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell #1 backs into Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez #11 in the first half. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA 11/15/2016. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

LOS ANGELES — The visual images left the Lakers feeling inspired for obvious reasons. As D’Angelo Russell completed three-on-three full-contact drills and Nick Young worked on shooting drills, the workload brought them one step closer toward returning to the court. But it also provided another reminder on how much work remains before that will happen.

The Lakers (10-15) listed Russell (left knee) and Young (right leg) as out for Sunday’s game against the New York Knicks (13-10) at Staples Center. Though Lakers coach Luke Walton held out the possibility Russell could play against New York, the Lakers suggested that is unlikely to happen despite completing all of Saturday’s practice. It appears more likely Russell could return on Monday against Sacramento in the beginning of a seven-game trip.
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