Lonzo Ball tallies triple-double; LaVar Ball says son will be 'best guard ever'

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Sunday, July 9, 2017

LAS VEGAS -- With LaVar Ball saying his son will become "the best guard ever" with Magic Johnson's help, Lonzo Ball rebounded from his dreadful shooting debut with his first triple-double as a Los Angeles Lakeron Saturday night.

Ball had 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists one night after shooting 2-for-15 in his Lakers summer league debut. But Jayson Tatum's 27 points and 11 rebounds lifted the Boston Celtics to an 86-81 win over the Lakers.

There was a lot of hype surrounding the showdown between Ball, the second overall pick in last month's NBA draft, and Tatum, the third overall pick. Neither disappointed. Tatum made 9 of 19 shots and all eight of his free throw attempts.

But the pro-Lakers crowd had its eyes on Ball, who along with his father said he had nowhere to go but up after having five points, five assists and four rebounds while missing 10 of 11 3-point shots in an overtime loss to the LA Clippers on Friday night.

"Today was going to be different than yesterday on the fact that I said he was at the bottom," LaVar Ball said in an in-game interview with ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. "That was his worst game."

LaVar said that with Johnson's tutelage, his son will surpass the Lakers legend and others as "the best guard ever."

"Magic ain't got to say nothing," LaVar said of when the Ball family met the Lakers' president of basketball operations initially. "All he has got to do is do it. He got Zo. You all about to see the best guard, with Magic, what he was doing, he [will] pass the torch to Lonzo.

"Lonzo is going to step over him and be the best guard ever."

Reminded that this is just summer league, LaVar said, "Summer league, winter league, we don't care. We play the same way all the way through."

This, though, was more like the way the Lakers envisioned Ball playing. He looked much more comfortable on Saturday, despite playing without Brandon Ingram, who is being held out of the rest of summer league for precautionary reasons after he suffered a cramp near the end of Friday night's game.

"I expected what happened last night," Johnson said on the ESPN telecast of the game. "This crowd was here to see him play, first time putting on that Laker uniform [on Friday]. He just didn't play well, point blank. Today he is playing faster."

Johnson said that when he spoke to LaVar and the Lakers' rookie during the draft process, the Hall of Famer said that it was time for his son to back all of his father's big talk.

"Forget all the trash-talking -- he is just marketing himself, his son, Big Baller Brand, and it is OK," Johnson said. "But he knows his son is a pro now and he got to back [it] up."

Ball still struggled from 3-point range, making his first attempt before finishing 1-for-5. But the former UCLA point guard delighted the Lakers crowd with an array of passes that displayed the kind of floor vision Johnson likes to see.

"The way I play, it is one game, throw it away and it's the next game," Ball said. "So I wasn't worried about the last game."

Like in his debut on Friday night, Ball tried to push the ball upcourt whenever he could. On one assist in transition, Ball threw a lookaway pass to fellow rookie Josh Hart for a layup.

And on one of his assists in the halfcourt, Ball fired a pass like a quarterback, leading his receiver that perfectly led a cutting David Nwaba to a layup.

Ball, who had four turnovers, also made adjustments from his first game, looking to get into the paint more and create or score rather than settling for the outside shot. He completed his triple-double with a dunk down the lane with 22.8 seconds left.

"There are games where he [didn't] score [big] but completely dominated the game with his rebounding, defense and passing," Lakers summer league coach Jud Buechler said. "So I am not surprised that he didn't have a big scoring night, but his finger prints are all over the stat sheet."

Fans wanted to see Ball and the Lakers versus Tatum and the Celtics. Saturday's tickets sold out by noon on Friday, marking the first time in the 14-year history of Las Vegas Summer League that a session sold out in advance.

While Lakers fans saw Ball still struggle with his outside shot, the point guard clearly looked more comfortable in his second game with his teammates.

"Definitely felt better," Ball said. "Better game but didn't get the win so ... that is all I really care about."

"My shot is off," he added. "But everyone knows I will keep shooting. My confidence is there."

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