Isaac Bonga enjoys the call-up, but is growing through the G League grind

first_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs SAN ANTONIO — He was supposed to be an “insurance policy.” But as things turned out, Isaac Bonga did get a chance at his first NBA minutes on Friday night.They came in garbage time, as they often do for rookies. But it’s all gravy for Bonga, who at 19 years old is the youngest Laker and has spent most of his time down in the G League so far.He liked the charter flight and the hotel in San Antonio, he admitted. But his tenure with the South Bay Lakers has gone well, too.“I feel G League experience right now is actually doing pretty good,” he said. “The first couple games maybe kinda get used to everything: speed, people over there. But since I’m getting used to it, I’m actually going well so far.” Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersBonga is averaging 14 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals while shooting 44.4 percent from 3-point range in the G League, where he’s started all 12 of his games. A 6-foot-8 wing, the Lakers hope Bonga can develop into a helpful addition to the backcourt in the future.He got the call-up Thursday as the team was reeling from the loss of Brandon Ingram to an ankle sprain. Lakers coach Luke Walton said he’s monitored Bonga closely in the G League through South Bay coach Coby Karl.“We are confident that if we need him,” Walton said, “he can get out there and help us play some defense and handle the ball a little bit for us.”Bonga said he’s still adjusting to the speed of the American game after playing pro in Germany for the last few years. But fellow countryman Moe Wagner said he’s seen Bonga improve by leaps and bounds since the preseason, when he lacked confidence.When they’re in the same locker room, the two can be seen conversing in German. Bonga said it’s been helpful having Wagner around. How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions “Oh yeah, the really good thing about Moe is he’s also like a guy who will encourage you, motivate you, be honest,” he said. “Especially in this league, I’m really glad to have Moe.”HART GETS THE STARTIn place of Ingram, whose MRI results were not available as of late Friday night, the Lakers turned to Josh Hart, who hadn’t been in the starting lineup since the last road game against San Antonio (Oct. 27).The second-year guard played for long stretches, playing 36 minutes and getting seven points on 3-of-8 shooting and five rebounds. While Hart missed all five of his 3-point attempts, Walton still felt that Hart kept pace with the starting group, for the most part.“His biggest challenge tonight was defensively,” Walton said. “We had him on DeRozan and Rudy, so I thought a lot of his efforts were going there. We can do a better job of getting him more looks, but I thought he looked pretty good with that group.”Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more