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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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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Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr. ruled out against Memphis

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. (7) scores against the Atlanta Hawks during the 2nd quarter, at the Staples Center. the Lakers won 109-94. Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, November ,27, 2016. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News /SCNG)

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. (7) scores against the Atlanta Hawks during the 2nd quarter, at the Staples Center. the Lakers won 109-94. Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, November ,27, 2016. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News /SCNG)

MEMPHIS — The injury bug has pinched the Lakers again.

The Lakers (10-11) ruled reserve forward Larry Nance Jr. out for tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies (12-8) at FedEx Forum because of a right knee contusion. Nance suffered the injury after colliding with Toronto’s Fred VanVleet in Friday night’s loss to the Raptors.

Lakers coach Luke Walton said he “would think he would be available next game” on Monday against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Then Walton conceded uncertainty. Nance has averaged 7.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in 22.1 minutes off the bench. The Lakers are already without point guard D’Angelo Russell (left knee) and shooting guard Nick Young (right leg), though the Grizzlies will not have Vince Carter (right hip), Mike Conley (lower back), James Ennis III (right calf), Chandler Parsons (left knee), Zach Randolph (personal) and Brandan Wright (left ankle).

“Without Larry it’s going to be tricky because he is such a big part of what we do,” Walton said. “We’ll have to be creative and do different lineups based on how the game is going. It definitely hurts not having him tonight.”

The Lakers plan to reevaluate Russell on Monday when he visits with team doctors in Los Angeles. Young has stopped wearing a boot to protect the strained muscle in his right calf since Friday, though he has not started rehabbing yet. Walton said Young will see team doctors when the Lakers return to Los Angeles as well.

“It doesn’t hurt when he walks anymore,” Walton said of Young. “Playing at this level, you have to be able to do a lot more than just walk without pain.”


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

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Lakers appreciate Jose Calderon’s flexibility with roles

The Lakers have appreciated the steady presence from veteran point guard Jose Calderon (left). Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

The Lakers have appreciated the steady presence from veteran point guard Jose Calderon (left). Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News (SCNG)

TORONTO – Usually, Luke Walton has evaluated his starting point guard by how much he has blended his scoring talents with both running the offense and elevating his defense. With D’Angelo Russell out of the lineup for the past week recovering from a sore left knee however, Walton judged his replacement through a different lens.

After veteran guard Jose Calderon logged the first of many nights as the Lakers’ starting point guard, Walton observed and joked how many ice bags the 35-year-old Calderon had around his knees.

“I feel great,” Calderon said, laughing. “He’s always joking around with the pads and the old guys. But you always have to be ready.”

The Lakers (10-10) enter Friday’s game against the Toronto Raptors (12-6) at Air Canada Centre with Calderon fulfilling that job description the most.

Calderon spent the first two games sitting out because of a left calf injury that bothered him in training camp and has since fully healed. He then played spot minutes in six games while becoming healthy scratches for six others in between. Calderon then has started seven of the past eight games while Russell has sat out to recover from his sore left knee.

During that stretch, Calderon has averaged 6.7 points on 56.76 percent shooting and 4.29 assists in 16.7 minutes per game. He has also shown to Walton that “physically he’s much better than I thought he would be,” which the Lakers’ coach attributed to Calderon playing only limited minutes for the Spanish national team in the 2016 Rio Olympics and taking care of is body. And Walton called Calderon a “very smart player” for various reasons.

“He helps stabilize the first unit that has been a different lineup way too many times this year already,” Walton said. “Just having a veteran that knows how to play and can run an offense and knock down open shots, it’s been nice to have him to lean on when D’Angelo is out.”

It also has been nice for the Lakers to have Calderon after acquiring him last offseason from the Chicago Bulls, which looked to shed salary in their successful free-agent chase for Dwyane Wade. The reasons reflect why Calderon has considered this season “perfect” and “what I expected.”

“I’m happy with the way things have been going. I’m comfortable out there every day and I’m feeling more comfortable with my teammates. I’m ready for whatever role,” Calderon said. “I’m here to help this team to win. It doesn’t matter what. If I’m on the bench, it’s the bench. If I’m playing five or 30 minutes, I’m good.”

When Calderon has fulfilled the latter role, the Lakers have liked his steady veteran presence, his consistent outside shooting (42.9 percent) and hustle. When Calderon has fulfilled the former role, the Lakers appreciated how engaged he has remained in practice, in team huddles and on the bench. So much that both Calderon’s teammates and Walton himself have credited him for providing observations and tips on various player and game tendencies.

“If the coach decides that’s my role for that game, I can’t just be sitting there with a long face and do nothing,” Calderon said. “That’s how I’ve been forever. I’m a team player and that’s all I worry about. Everything is taken care of when you go out there and do your best. Every little possession and every little detail can help you win a game or that possession. It’s an easy way to get involved in the game just in case it happens.”

Those qualities remind the Raptors of what Calderon brought to their team from 2005 to 2013 before the Detroit Pistons acquired him in a trade. He remains the Raptors’ all-time leader in assists (3,770). Toronto coach Dwane Casey then joked he could be Calderon’s agent for all the compliments he handed him.

Casey called Calderon a “winner.” He praised his Olympic experience as a two-time silver medalist (2008, 2012) and bronze medalist (2016). And Casey expressed appreciation both for Calderon’s on-court contributions and mentorship.

“Having Jose Calderon on any team is special,” Casey said. “I think he’s a special person, a leader by example, a coach on the floor and a good person. His heart is in the right place.”

So much that Raptors forward DeMar DeRozan largely credited him for becoming a a two-time NBA All-Star and securing a five-year deal worth $145 deal million last summer to stay in Toronto.

“I credit a lot of the player I am today to Jose,” DeRozan said. “He gave me a lot of confidence early on, trusting me and giving me the ball, trusting me to shoot and never get down if you have a bad game and if you’re missing a few shots. He always believed in me.”

Calderon called DeRozan a “great guy” and said he feels “happy” for his growth entering his 8th NBA season before offering similar optimism about the current Lakers.

“There is great chemistry and good mix with the young guys with the vets,” Calderon said. “I think the coaching staff is doing a great job with how we’re playing together and playing as a team.”

But as much as Calderon waxed nostalgia about returning to Toronto and reflecting on his first regular-season game here nearly 11 years ago, this place also marked his own rite of passage.

After playing six seasons in the Spanish Pro League, Calderon played on a struggling Raptors team that went through three coaches (Sam Mitchell, Jay Triano, Casey) and only two NBA playoff appearances in seven full seasons. After shooting 16.3 percent from 3-point range his rookie season, Calderon spent the majority of his offseason taking “a lot” of outside shots and subtly tinkering with his form.

“It’s about confidence and always doing the same thing,” Calderon said. “I think that’s the same thing. I think mentally you have to be ready. Some days go in and some days you don’t. There’s nothing you do with the ball. You have to be ready.”

Calderon stayed ready thus far with the Lakers by making the best with both limited playing time and his elevated role during Russell’s absence.

“It’s kind of easier this way. It’s been great. We have so many guys. Even if you don’t feel great that night, somebody else will come in and do your job and do better if they need to,” Calderon said. “It’s been good so far. I’m okay. I’m healthy. I’m feeling really really good and out there enjoying basketball.”

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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’ Nick Young ruled out for Wednesday’s game against Chicago

Los Angeles Lakers Media Day in El Segundo Monday September 28, 2015. Nick Young smiles during interview. Photo By  Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

Los Angeles Lakers Media Day in El Segundo Monday September 28, 2015. Nick Young smiles during interview.
Photo By Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

CHICAGO — The Lakers have ruled Lakers guard Nick Young out for tonight’s game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center for what the team termed a “right leg injury.” The Lakers have not released the results of an MRI Young took on Wednesday after suffering what the team called a strain in his right Achilles tendon in the opening minutes of the Lakers’ 105-88 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday at Smoothie King Center.

The Lakers will surely miss Young, who has had a resurgent season thus far under first-year coach Luke Walton by averaging 14.1 points on 45.8 percent shooting in 26.4 minutes as a starter. It does not help that Lakers starting point guard D’Angelo Russell is sidelined for at least another week while rehabbing on his sore left knee.

While veteran guard Jose Calderon has started in Russell’s place in six of the past seven games, Young’s absence could either spur Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams or even Marcelo Huertas to the starting lineup. Clarkson has averaged 15.1 points on 45 percent shooting in 27.8 minutes off the bench, while Williams has posted 16.6 points on a 45.6 percent clip in 23.5 minutes as a reserve.

Though Clarkson and Williams lead the Lakers’ in bench scoring, Walton could start seldom-used Huertas for various reasons. Though Huertas has averaged 1.1 points on 25 percent shooting and 2.3 assists in 8.4 minutes through seven appearances, the Lakers like his ability to run a balanced offense. Walton also has stayed reluctant in breaking up the team’s reserves unit since it leads the NBA in scoring (52.4).


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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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