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Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle are giving Lakers a double dose of power at forward

Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle are giving Lakers a double dose of power at forward
Hornets forward Nicolas Batum, left, reaches in to try to swipe the ball from Lakers forwar Larry Nance Jr., right, in the second half on Dec. 28. (Chuck Burton / Associated Press)

Byron Scott might have found the Lakers' power forward of the future. He just doesn't know which one it is.

Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle both have been on point recently, keying the Lakers' first two-game winning streak this season.

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Nance is the starter, the high-flying one whose midrange jump shot has been surprisingly reliable. Randle is the reserve, the fearless one whose forceful drives are entertaining even when unsuccessful.

Randle is 21, Nance is 23 and Byron has some inexperienced but improving power at the four spot.

"It's obviously a big-time positive for us to have these two young guys playing as well as they have the last week or so," Scott said Saturday. "It seems like a nice little competitive competition between the two of them as well. Julius, the last game in Boston, got 12 rebounds, so Larry said, 'Well, I'm going to get 14 [against Philadelphia].'"

Randle had 15 points and Nance indeed had 14 rebounds Friday as the Lakers earned their first two-game win streak this season by beating the 76ers, 93-84.

Interestingly, Nance and Randle might play together at some point. Scott would use Nance at small forward and Randle at power forward if that happened.

"I've got a lot of things I'm thinking about as far as changing the lineup," he said.

On the other hand, Scott is reluctant to make immediate changes because the Lakers could win their third consecutive game Sunday. They play the badly slumping Phoenix Suns (12-24), who have lost eight in a row and allowed more than 100 points in 15 consecutive games.

The Lakers (7-27) haven't won three games in a row since last February.

Russell a starter soon?

It seems like D'Angelo Russell's return to the starting five is a matter of time. It's been 14 games since he was dropped to second string, but Scott likes what the rookie has done.

"He's playing with a lot more energy. He's been under control a lot better," Scott said. "He's doing a better job on the defensive end. It's not a matter of what he needs to do, it's just a matter of when I'm going to put him back in there."

Russell's numbers are almost even whether he starts or comes off the bench. He averages 11.6 points and 3.3 assists as a starter and 11.8 points and 3.6 assists as a reserve.

Bryant back?

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Kobe Bryant was considered questionable to play Sunday against Phoenix, Scott said.

Bryant sat out Friday's victory because of a sore right shoulder but told Scott it was improving Saturday. He did not practice and was at the training facility only to get treatment on the shoulder. It's the same shoulder in which he sustained a season-ending torn rotator cuff last January.

"He said it felt a lot better," Scott said. "What that means, I don't know yet. So we'll just have to wait to see exactly how he feels."

Up next for Lakers

vs. Phoenis Suns

When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.

Records: Lakers 7-27, Suns 12-24.

Record vs. Suns: 0-1.

Update: Phoenix lost its eighth consecutive game, 142-119, to Sacramento on Saturday. The Suns also got bad news last week when guard Eric Bledsoe sustained a season-ending knee injury. Guard Brandon Knight had his first career triple-double — 30 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds — when the Suns beat the Lakers in November, 120-101.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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