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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Lakers’ 119-104 loss to Timberwolves highlights Jeanie Buss concerns if team will have All-Star next season

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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Lakers’ Jeanie Buss reiterates support for Luke Walton

Los Angeles Lakers Team President Jeanie Buss, during The Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission (LASEC) 13th annual LAKERS ALL-ACCESS, at the Staples Center. Los Angeles Calif., Monday, February ,27, 2017. ( Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News / SCNG )

As she pondered hiring Magic Johnson first as an advisor and subsequently to oversee the team’s basketball operations, Lakers governor Jeanie Buss pressed Johnson on one specific topic to make sure they held similar views.

“What was important to me was how he felt about our coach, Luke Walton,” Buss said on a recent podcast with Forbes Sports Money. “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.”

It turns out Johnson agreed with Buss with as much conviction as the beliefs they share in holding the previous front office in Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak largely responsible for the Lakers two weeks away from missing the NBA playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

“I believe if we build with Luke in mind, he is somebody that can be around a long time,” Buss said. “That is exactly what Magic Johnson said.”
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Lakers’ Luke Walton doubts Brandon Ingram will play Thursday vs. Minnesota

Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (14), left, defends Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during a game at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, March 19, 2017. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Orange County Register/SCNG)

MINNEAPOLIS – Shortly after practice ended, Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram performed a series of stretches to extend his range of motion. He then took a few shots.

All of which marked the extent in which Ingram participated in Wednesday’s session after missing the past two games with tendinitis in his right knee. Since Lakers coach Luke Walton has wanted Ingram to complete a full practice before returning, Walton considered it “most likely” Ingram will sit when the Lakers (21-53) visit the Minnesota Timberwolves (29-44) on Thursday at Target Center.

Still, Walton did not entirely close the door on Ingram’s return. Ingram plans to receive more treatment and complete an evening workout. While Ingram is not currently ready for any three-on-three drills, the Lakers could increase Ingram’s workload during Thursday’s morning shootaround and prior to tipoff.

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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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How Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell offered nearly a complete game against Washington

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 )

LOS ANGELES — The passes looked so crisp when D’Angelo Russell found teammates that his defenders did not notice were open. The shots looked so smooth as Russell squared up from the both behind the perimeter and in the post. The defensive activity looked sharp as Russell contested shots and pointed out rotations.

In a season in which the Lakers hoped their second-year guard would blended all those ingredients together consistently, Russell mixed the right recipe to ensure nearly a complete game in the Lakers’ 119-108 loss to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday at Staples Center.

Lakers coach Luke Walton described the team’s third-quarter execution in which they scored 37 points on 15-of-16 shooting as “beautiful.” So was Russell’s play, which Walton called “great” and “brilliant.” He scored nearly anytime he wanted to as he posted 28 points while shooting 10-of-21 from the field and 4-of-12 from 3-point range. He provided the kind of playmaking that both produced nine assists and contributed to backcourt mate Jordan Clarkson posting 22 points on a 10-of-19 clip. And while no one will mistake the Lakers for displaying a defensive clinic against Washington’s John Wall (34 points) and Bradley Beal (16), Russell impressed Walton for “being active on defense.”

“It’s all about consistency. It’s something I’m trying to build on now,” Russell said. “I’m trying to be defensive minded from the start. It takes my game to another level.”
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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram to miss Tuesday’s game against Wizards with right knee injury

Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (14) drives to the basket against Dallas Mavericks’ Seth Curry, left, in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Tuesday, March 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

EL SEGUNDO — After rarely showing any signs of fatigue during his rookie season, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram will miss his second consecutive game on Tuesday against the Washington Wizards because of patellar tendinitis in his right knee.

Ingram will travel with the Lakers for Thursday’s game in Minnesota, but it’s not currently clear if he will play. The Lakers plan to practice in Minnesota on Wednesday in what would mark Ingram’s first practice since injuring his knee at the end of Thursday’s practice. Although he played on Friday against Minnesota, Ingram sat out the entire fourth quarter and overtime period after feeling more pain in his knee.
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