Brandon Ingram’s work ethic accelerating his growth

Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram has attacked the basket more in recent games. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram has attacked the basket more in recent games. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

EL SEGUNDO – As he carried sneakers with one hand and his workout clothing with the other, Brandon Ingram remained intent on continuing his on-court regimen.

The Lakers’ rookie forward had already spent the team’s “offday” on Saturday working out at the team’s practice facility. He followed that up with an individual workout with Lakers assistant coach Brian Keefe, who has trained Ingram on a nearly daily basis. Ingram’s day was hardly finished, though. Even at 8:30 p.m., Ingram still had time for one more workout.

There marked only one problem, though. The Lakers’ Development League affiliate, the D-Fenders, already took the floor for a regular-season game. But just as he has reacted to a swarm of defenders trying to physically intimidate him, Ingram did not allow the D-Fenders’ itinerary to disrupt his routine. He simply found a gym nearly five minutes away from the Lakers’ facility to sweat some more.

“If I’m not asleep,” Ingram said, grinning, “it’s probably all basketball.”

That scene captures why the Lakers have become encouraged with Ingram’s steady growth as a defender, post player and ball handler. It also explains why the Lakers have stayed patient with Ingram when he has averaged 7.9 points on a 36.9 percent clip.

“When you have that type of work ethic and you can play basketball the way he can,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said, “he’s going to continue to get better and better at different things.”

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Lakers’ Luke Walton provides different coaching approach toward D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle

(Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

(Lakers coach Luke Walton has offered a different coaching approach to Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell than forward Julius Randle. Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

The interactions often become animated as Luke Walton pulls Julius Randle to the side with more feedback.

Walton harps on Randle’s effort. Randle occasionally allows his competitive nature and frustration in the heat of the game to affect his reaction. Nonetheless, Randle mostly soaks in the feedback, mindful that Walton’s words fuel his desire to become great.

Those images hardly match how Walton has coached second-year guard D’Angelo Russell entering Tuesday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers (16-23) at Staples Center. Although Walton challenged Russell to adopt a more regimented routine, the Lakers’ coach conceded his approach is “different with D’Angelo.”

“We talk more about what I see and what he sees,” Walton said. “But I don’t get on him the same way I get on Julius. But I guess you could say it’s similar. It’s about personal growth. But I don’t get on him as hard as I get on Julius.”
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Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson fined $15,000 for throwing forearm above Goran Dragic’s shoulders

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson may have escaped an NBA-imposed suspension for his ejection involving Miami guard Goran Dragic in Friday’s win over the Heat. But Clarkson’s wallet still became a tad lighter.

The NBA fined Clarkson $15,000 for what the league considered “throwing a forearm above the shoulders” to Dragic. After Clarkson lightly pushed Dragic because of his belief that he hit him in the stomach, Dragic then bumped back harder, prompting Clarkson to push back partly by using his forearms to send Dragic to the ground.

Dragic then approached Clarkson, who immediately struck a boxer’s stance. Before the tussle could escalate any further, Lakers forward Luol Deng pulled Clarkson away while Miami coach Erik Spoelstra intervened on Dragic’s behalf. Officials then ejected both Clarkson and Dragic with 5:29 left in the third quarter.

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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’ Thomas Robinson, Metta World Peace to have guaranteed contracts

The Lakers kept reserve forward Thomas Robinson to make his contract guaranteed on Jan. 10, 2017. Photo credit: Hans Gutknecht/Southern California News Group.

The Lakers kept reserve forward Thomas Robinson to make his contract guaranteed on Jan. 10, 2017. Photo credit: Hans Gutknecht/Southern California News Group.

LOS ANGELES – As the Lakers aim to develop their young roster, they have decided to retain an emerging young forward and a veteran fan favorite.

The Lakers plan to keep reserve forwards Thomas Robinson and Metta World Peace past Jan. 10 when their one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum becomes guaranteed.

Though that will not become official until Tuesday, all NBA teams would have had to make potential cuts to their roster by 2 p.m. PT on Saturday to give those players time to clear waivers. The Lakers can still waive Robinson or World Peace later in the season, though they would owe each player their full salary.
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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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