Lakers’ Brandon Ingram throws down one-handed dunk over Kings’ Georgios Papagiannis

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers’ rising star does not have Larry Nance Jr.’s athleticism. But that did not stop Brandon Ingram from soaring into the air.

At 6-foot-9 and 190 pounds, Ingram does not have Julius Randle’s power and his 6-foot-9, 250 pound frame to bully nearly anyone guarding him. But that did not stop Ingram from preventing anyone from pushing him around.

After grabbing a looseball, Ingram brought the ball up the court. He drove by a defender on the perimeter. He flashed past a helpside defender in the lane. And even with another defender leaping into the air in the paint, Ingram still soared and threw down a one-handed dunk. While that sequence represented one play in the Lakers’ 98-94 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday at Staples Center, Ingram’s one-handed dunk over the Kings’ Georgios Papagiannis a “different mentality” the Lakers’ forward said he has harbored since the All-Star break nearly 1 1/2 months ago.

“Just attacking the rim,” Ingram said. “The kast couple of games, I’m just using my length and attacking the rim and going until somebody stops me.”
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Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram to play vs Kings

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) drives to the basket against Washington Wizard Ian Mahinmi (28) in the 1st quarter at the Staples Center. Los Angeles Calif., Tuesday, March 28, 2017. ( Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News / SCNG )

Even if plenty of the Lakers’ fanbase has fretted recently over the team’s diminished odds in the NBA draft lottery, Lakers coach Luke Walton wore a wide smile following Friday’s morning shootaround.

Beyond nursing a rare two-game winning streak, the Lakers (23-55) will have D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram available for Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings (31-47) at Staples Center.

Walton said there are no limitations for Russell (sore left knee) and Clarkson (left knee contusion). After missing Wednesday’s game in San Antonio and having limited participation in Thursday’s practice, Russell completed Friday’s morning shootaround that included making 17 consecutive 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Clarkson sat out of the fourth quarter against the Spurs after bumping knees with Spurs forward David Lee. For the fourth consecutive game, Ingram will nurse a minutes restriction though it’s not clear if it will mirror the 10 minutes he logged against the Spurs.

Lakers guard David Nwaba will also likely have a minutes restriction after playing on Wednesday in San Antonio and in the D-Fenders’ Game 1 playoff loss to Rio Grande Valley in Hidalgo Texas. After posting 10 points, five rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes against the Spurs, Nwaba led the D-Fenders with 29 points in 39 minutes.

Mindful that Nwaba could potentially play every day up through the Lakers’ season finale against Golden State on Wednesday, Walton suggested he and D-Fenders coach Coby Karl will reevaluate how they use Nwaba.

“We’ll take it day by day. I don’t think it’s good for him if he’s going to play 30-40 minutes with both teams,” Walton said. “So we have to sit down and talk as a group as far as what’s best for him health wise.”

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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. Subscribe to the “We Want Tacos” podcast on iTunes.

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Why Lakers’ Luke Walton played Metta World Peace in win over Spurs

SAN ANTONIO — With his 37-year-old body on the floor of the Lakers’ locker room, forward Metta World Peace lay on a mat /performing a series of yoga stretches. World Peace fittingly seemed at peace as he twisted his body like a pretzel.

“If I play, I got to,” World Peace said. “I won’t last.”

All of which raises one question: why would World Peace in the Lakers’ 102-95 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday at AT&T Center? The Lakers had acquired World Peace mostly for his off-court mentorship than for his on-court abilities, something that became more pronounced as the Lakers placed priority on developing their young players once the NBA playoffs became unrealistic. Yet, there World Peace was on the court in the last week of the regular season, tussling with Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, posting five points on 2-of-5 shooting and logging 17 minutes.

Afterwards, Lakers coach Luke Walton largely attributed World Peace’s participation to a minutes restriction on rookie forward Brandon Ingram, who had eight points on 3-of-4 shooting in 10 minutes in the first half after feeling increased soreness in the tendinitis in his right knee during morning shootaround. The Lakers also have only one other wing player in Corey Brewer, who had five points and four assists in 21 minutes. Then again, World Peace did not play in the three games Ingram missed last week because of the same injury.

“There wasn’t anyone else to go to,” Walton said. “Not being a knock on Metta, but we are trying to play younger players right now. You look down the bench and San Antonio has big, strong defenders. And to me, I love the opportunity to play Metta.”

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Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell to miss Wednesday’s game vs. Spurs with sore left knee

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) and Washington Wizard Bradley Beal (3) battle for the ball in the 4th quarter, at the Staples Center. The Wizards won 119-108. Los Angeles Calif., Tuesday, March 28, 2017. ( Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News / SCNG )

SAN ANTONIO — With their playoff aspirations dashed nearly months ago, the Lakers still found meaning in trying to develop their young players. If only they can stay healthy.

Lakers second-year guard D’Angelo Russell will sit out when the Lakers (22-55) visit the San Antonio Spurs (60-17) on Wednesday at Staples Center because of what the team called a sore left knee. After initially believing Brandon Ingram could get off a minutes restriction because of previous tendinitis in his right knee, Walton said Ingram will face a minutes restriction because of increased discomfort prior to tipoff.

“I don’t think it’s too serious, but I don’t know,” Walton said. “It’s something that we will get more information on. He was at shootaround and limping around a little bit. But I guess it’s bothering him. We’ll figure out more as the day goes.”
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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram “anxious” to play late vs. Memphis, but respects minutes restriction

LOS ANGELES –While sitting patiently on the bench, Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram started wondering if he would ever check into the game during crunchtime.

As the Lakers secured a 108-103 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday at Staples Center, Ingram eventually realized it would not happen.

“I was definitely anxious to get back out there,” Ingram said.

Lakers coach Luke Walton was definitely anxious about doing that, though. Ingram offered continual growth in his aggression by scoring 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting. But Ingram had played on the second day of a back-to-back after missing the previous three games with tendinitis in his right knee. So, Walton found more value in keeping Ingram at a minutes restriction than allowing him to grow in a closeout game.

After Ingram logged 24 minutes on Saturday against the Clippers, Walton planned to extend that minutes restriction against Memphis. He chose otherwise for other reasons. Walton found it counterproductive for Ingram to play in a limited fourth-quarter stretch considering that might not be enough to build a rhythm. Walton found the closeout group that included D’Angelo Russell, Tyler Ennis, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. playing just fine. And Walton figured to be cautious, even if Ingram has a day off on Monday and a practice day on Tuesday before the Lakers (22-55) visit the San Antonio Spurs (59-17) at AT&T Center.

So when Ingram learned he would not play again with the score tied, 90-90, with 5:43 remaining, he processed his internal frustration while respecting Walton’s thought process.

“When you first hear it, it’s not something you want to go through. You don’t want to sit out and watch the game,” Ingram said. “I wanted to be in there. After a while, you think about being unselfish, just cheering for your teammates and just trying to get a win and feeding off of their energy.”
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Why Lakers had inconsistent energy in 119-104 loss to Clippers

LOS ANGELES — Through all the unanswered questions surrounding a young Lakers team, their potential and their future, Lakers coach Luke Walton outlined one simple goal that could give him clarity on all of those three questions.

“All I’m trying to do is see our guys compete,” Walton said.

Nearly 2 1/2 hours later, the Lakers offered sobering results in the form of a 119-104 loss to the Clippers in a designated road game on Saturday at Staples Center.

The reasons for the Lakers (21-55) included the usual ones that secured the fifth consecutive season in which they lost the regular-season series to a Clippers (47-31) team that share the same building. Clippers forward Blake Griffin carved up the interior defense with 36 points and eight rebounds, while Clippers guard Chris Paul sliced through the perimeter defense with 29 points and 12 assists. But the result also became basically official only minutes after tipoff.

Then, the Clippers ran out to a 17-0 lead . The Lakers missed their first 11 shots. And though the Lakers would eventually trim double-digit deficits in both the second and fourth quarters, the Lakers received yet another reminder of a season-long problem with poor starts defining plenty of their losses.

“It’s a good example of what’s going to happen to us if we’re not engaged in the fight to start,” Walton said. “These are good teams we’re playing against. We can’t afford to start a game without that edge on us.”
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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr. to start vs. Clippers

The Lakers’ Brandon Ingram (14) shoots during their game against the Bucks at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, March 17, 2017. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers (21-54) will field a new starting lineup that coincides with overlapping injuries.

Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram will start at small forward for Saturday’s designated road game against the Clippers (46-31) at Staples Center after missing the previous three games because of tendinitis in his right knee. Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. will make his first start of the season at center with rookie center Ivica Zubac sideined for the remainder of the season with of a high right ankle sprain.

The Lakers will put Ingram on a minutes restriction as they put more value in further developing Ingram for the remaining seven games than shutting him down.

“We were going to be careful with it. But once he felt good, he was going to get back out there,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “This is an important time for all of our young guys. We want him getting this experience. He’s one of those guys that is dying to play. He hates sitting out. It’s been killing him he hasn’t been able to practice and play the last couple of games. We weren’t going to shut him out longer than we needed to be.”
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Lakers shut down Ivica Zubac for rest of season after suffering high ankle sprain

Lakers center Ivica Zubac will miss the rest of the 2016-17 season after suffering a high ankle sprain. Photo by Steve McCrank, Daily News/SCNG

After an MRI confirmed a high ankle sprain in his right ankle, Lakers center Ivica Zubac will miss the remainder of the 2016-17 season.

The Lakers are exercising caution for obvious reasons. After selecting him with the 32nd pick of the 2016 NBA draft, the Lakers view Zubac as a worthy long-term investment. But the news marks a missed opportunity in which the Lakers and Zubac could continue his steady growth with their seven remaining regular-season games.

Zubac gave the Lakers plenty of optimism with his long-term trajectory with his post presence, hook shot, mid-range jumper and defense. While averaging 7.5 points on 52.9 percent shooting and 4.2 rebounds, Zubac also impressed the Lakers with his steady growth, work habits, improving his conditioning and losing weight.

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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. Subscribe to the “We Want Tacos” podcast on iTunes.

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Why Lakers’ Luke Walton found communication issues contributing to Ricky Rubio’s career-high performance

MINNEAPOLIS — In something that has become a rarity all season, the Lakers initially followed their defensive scouting report.

With the Lakers facing a Minnesota Timberwolves team that features a versatile big man (Karl-Anthony Towns), a versatile wing (Andrew Wiggins) and a dynamic playmaker (Ricky Rubio), the Lakers narrowed their priorities on how to defend Minnesota’s three best players. Lakers coach Luke Walton considers Towns and Wiggins as “players that can get 30 [points] on any given night.” Walton views Rubio as “more of a facilitator,” matching the league-wide perception that his passing becomes much more dangerous and consistent than his shooting.

“With our defensive schemes right now,” Walton said, “what we try to do is take away one thing.”

But as the Lakers tried to take away one thing, they wound up giving up everything. The Lakers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 119-104, on Thursday at Target Center with Towns, Wiggins and Rubio scoring mostly anytime they wanted. Rubio posted a career-high 33 points while shooting 12-of-20 from the field and 4-of-5 from 3-point range and adding 10 assists. Towns added 32 points on a 11-of-22 clip and nine rebounds. And Wiggins contributed with 27 points while going 9-of-20 from the field and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line.

Yet, Walton became more upset with how the Lakers defended Rubio than how they defended Towns and Wiggins for one specific reason.

“Towns and Wiggins are players you can play as good as you want on them defensively. They can still find a way to get 25-30 points,” Walton said. “I’m not saying we did a great job on them defensively but it’s different than the [33] that Ricky got on us.”

That’s because Walton found the team’s lack of defensive communication playing a significant part in fueling Rubio’s hot shooting night.
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How Jeanie Buss’ support for Luke Walton has made his job easier

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) talks with Laker Head Coach Luke Walton , during a time out against the Portland Trail Blazers , during the 1st quarter, at the Staples Center. Los Angeles Calif., Sunday, March 26, 2017. ( Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News / SCNG )

MINNEAPOLIS — The demands on his schedule prevented Lakers coach Luke Walton hearing governor Jeanie Buss reveal in a podcast with Forbes Sports Money that “Luke Walton is somebody I believe can be our coach for the next 10 or 15 years as long as we don’t kill him.”

He has plenty enough to keep him busy coaching the Lakers (21-53) entering Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (29-44) on Thursday at Target Center. Though Walton had not heard Buss say those words on a podcast, the Lakers’ coach said he has heard Buss say those words in other instances.

Ever since the Lakers hired Walton in the 2016 offseason after serving as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors for the previous two years, Walton said Buss has “been incredible” as she has offered support as they talked in person or via text message.

“As a coaching staff, it’s really nice to hear and know,” Walton said. “We can do things that we feel are best for the team and not have to worry for now at least if we’re a part of that future. It’s very comforting to coach that way.”
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