Two Lakers will be part of this year’s Rising Stars Challenge during all-star weekend. Rookie Brandon Ingram and second-year guard D’Angelo Russell were both invited to participate, the NBA announced.
This is the second year Russell will be in the game.
“It’s a great honor,” Ingram said. “It’s something that as a kid you reach for, one of your goals is to get in. Just another opportunity to go have fun with guys I played AAU with, played in college with. … I think most of those guys I either played with or played against.”
Ingram has started 15 games for the Lakers, most recently starting at point guard when Russell was out with a right knee and calf injury. Russell’s participation in the game could be affected by his health if his injury lingers. The game will be played Feb. 17 in New Orleans.
The event used to pit rookies against NBA sophomores, but two years ago the format changed so American first- and second-year NBA players faced international first- and second-year players in the game.
Last year Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson joined Russell in the game. Russell had 22 points with seven assists, while Clarkson scored 25 points, with five rebounds and five assists in a 157-154 U.S. victory. Russell joins Jordan Farmar as the only Lakers to participate twice in the game.
This season the American team will also include Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Indiana’s Myles Turner, Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Marquese Chriss, Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, Charlotte’s Frank Kaminsky, Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor and San Antonio’s Jonathon Simmons.
The international team will include Phildelphia’s Joel Embiid (Cameroon), plus two members of the 2015-16 NBA All-Rookie first team, Serbian center Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks. Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Jamal Murray (Canada) will also be on the team as well as Danté Exum (Australia) and Trey Lyles (Canada) of the Utah Jazz, Buddy Hield (Bahamas) of the New Orleans Pelicans, Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania) of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dario Saric (Croatia) of the 76ers.
A big night for the Waltons
Portland’s only NBA championship happened three years before Lakers Coach Luke Walton was born, but that team affected his life nonetheless.
His father, Bill Walton, starred for the team and even named Luke after teammate Maurice Lucas. Years later when teammates from that 1977 team stopped by their home, Luke and his brothers would hear about their father.
“Some of those guys that used to come down to the house when we were kids all the time, then we’d get the real good stories about how my dad would try to rebel against Coach and things of that nature,” Luke said. “Dad never really gave us the dirty details of what he liked to do.”
The Trail Blazers honored that team at halftime of Wednesday’s game.
“It’s awesome,” Luke said. “It is. That was obviously a huge part of my dad’s life. A lot of those guys, a few of them would come down in the summers and we’d play with their kids. It was a family atmosphere.”
After the ceremony, Bill Walton remained on the court to take a photo with Luke and David Lucas, Maurice Lucas’ son.
Russell remains out
Russell did not start Wednesday while still recovering from a mild MCL sprain and a strained calf muscle, both in his right leg.
Jose Calderon started in his place. Wednesday’s game marked the second game Russell has missed with the injury. The Lakers said he will miss one to two weeks with the injury.
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City.
On the air: TV: TNT; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 16-33; Jazz 29-18.
Record vs. Jazz: 0-3.
Update: Utah is coming off a stretch of five nights in which they played four games. They won both games of the first back-to-back of that set, beating Dallas and Indianapolis, then lost the second back-to-back to Oklahoma City and Denver.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli