Lakers' Lonzo Ball suffers calf tightness, exits summer game

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Monday, July 17, 2017

LAS VEGAS -- Lonzo Ball left Sunday's win over the Dallas Mavericks with tightness in his right calf, but the Los Angeles Lakersrookie hopes to play in the Las Vegas summer league championship game.

The Lakers' No. 2 overall pick said he will receive treatment leading up to Monday night's championship game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

"This is the first time my calf got tight," Ball said, adding that he still felt stiffness. "Just being cautious. I wanted to get back out there, but the training staff is going to take care of me and I will be with them tonight and tomorrow and hope I can get back out there tomorrow."

Ball suffered the injury in the third quarter and departed with 6 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in the third quarter of the Lakers' 108-98 semifinal win. The Lakers' medical staff held Ball out for precautionary reasons, but the team sounded optimistic about the possibility that he plays in the championship game.

The Lakers will play their fifth game in six nights Monday, so they could play it safe with Ball. They have seen everything that they needed to see from the prized rookie.

"We are in a league right now that is kind of dominated by scoring point guards," Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said before Ball suffered the calf injury. "And there's some great ones, don't get me wrong. But to kind of have this young kid come along, 19 years old, he is really changing the way point guards play with pass-first, getting your teammates going first. It is amazing to watch. We feel like the way he's playing can really transform our whole team."

With Magic Johnson, Pelinka and coach Luke Walton watching, Ball was having his best shooting night of the summer league, draining 5 of 7 shots, including 2 of 3 3-pointers, for 16 points. He dished out 10 assists, all by halftime, to go with four rebounds in an anticipated showdown with Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr., who finished with 21 points and six assists.

Ball has created a stir in Las Vegas with his choice of shoes for each game, from Big Baller Brand to Nike to Adidas to Under Armour. On Sunday, he wore a pair of Air Jordan XXXIs.

But he has impressed several executives and coaches around the league as one of the best performers at summer league, racking up two triple-doubles while coming close to a couple more, including a 36-point, 11-assist, eight-rebound performance against the Philadelphia 76ers.

After Ball suffered the injury, he stretched out his calf on the baseline before briefly going to the locker room. Before the start of the fourth, Ball went to the locker room again before returning to the bench to watch the Lakers.

Prior to the injury, Ball's perimeter shot had finally arrived, as he knocked down his first two 3-point attempts. He also continued to thrill the pro-Lakers crowd and even Johnson with his passing and vision.

On one play in the first half, Ball chased down a loose ball toward half court, and just before a Dallas defender could get there, Ball punched the ball forward to teammate Alex Caruso for a dunk.

On another play, Ball took an outlet pass and, in one motion, fired a nearly three-quarter-court pass just over the outstretched arms of a Mavericks defender to teammate Kyle Kuzma, who drove in for a dunk. Johnson stood up and applauded.

"He was amazing," Lakers summer league coach Jud Buechler said. "He was just dynamite there for about a 12-minute stretch there in the first and second quarter a little bit. ... You can see what he is all about, and he's a winner, that's what he is."

The Lakers shot a blistering 17-of-22 from 3-point range and led by as many as 26. Ball had his shot going, at one point posting up a defender before hitting a turnaround fadeaway jumper.

"I felt good tonight," Ball said. "It was the first time I was making shots. I felt good. Kuz was catching everything, hitting his. First half, I think we shot like 70 percent or something crazy like that. So everybody was hitting tonight."

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