Ball redeems humdrum debut with sensational follow-up performance

by
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports / Action Images

Lonzo Ball must have learned during his stint in the Las Vegas Summer League that a rough night at the office doesn't have to stick, and there's always a chance for redemption.

Not having to deal with one of the peskiest defenders in all of basketball looking to knock him down a few pegs, the Los Angeles Lakers rookie worked his magic (Johnson impression) against a weak Phoenix Suns squad Friday night to help his side escape with a 132-130 victory at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

In 37 minutes of action, Ball demonstrated why the hype surrounding him coming out of UCLA was warranted, and not merely a byproduct of his boisterous father's ramblings. Ball flirted with a triple-double, scoring 29 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing nine assists, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to finish with a line of 21-8-8, while drilling four or more 3-pointers in the process.

He also exhibited a clutch gene late when Phoenix rallied, hitting crucial buckets down the stretch that proved ever-so-valuable in the end. The only reason the game wasn't sent to overtime was because Suns forward T.J. Warren missed his free throws.

It wasn't a perfect performance, by any means. As a first-year player, Ball was prone to errors, tallying a team-high four turnovers. He also took 27 shots for his 29 points, which was 16 more shots than the 11 Jordan Clarkson and Brook Lopez attempted.

Nonetheless, Ball can hold his head high knowing what he accomplished Friday, using it as a building block as he continues to run the point for Los Angeles this season.

Yes, his numbers came against a Suns team coming off the worst opening-night loss ever, but that shouldn't diminish what Ball achieved.

In his Summer League debut, Ball missed 13 of his 15 shots from the field for five points in 32 minutes. He then picked himself up, brushed himself off, and secured a triple-double the next game. Friday against Phoenix, Ball bounced back just like he did in Sin City.

Now that's what a Big Baller mentality should be.