Ball shows scor­ing im­prove­ment, but Lak­ers fall to Ta­tum, Celtics

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JEFF ZILLGITT

Fol­low­ing his sub­par Las Ve­gas NBA Sum­mer League de­but Fri­day, Los An­ge­les Lak­ers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball said there was nowhere to go but up.

He said that per­for­mance — 2 for 15 shoot­ing — would prob­a­bly be his worst game of the week.

In his sec­ond Sum­mer League game, Ball went up. He fin­ished with 11 points, 11 re­bounds, 11 as­sists and four turnovers in 34 min­utes in the Lak­ers’ 86-81 loss to the Bos­ton Celtics on Satur­day.

Lak­ers pres­i­dent Magic John­son and gen­eral man­ager Rob Pelinka again watched from court­side seats, not far from boxer Floyd May­weather who showed up to watch Ball play for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive night.

It was a rare Sum­mer League sell­out as fans — an­other sig­nif­i­cant Lak­ers con­tin­gent — packed Thomas & Mack Cen­ter’s lower bowl to watch Ball and Celtics for­wards Jayson Ta­tum and Jaylen Brown.

Ta­tum, the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft, con­tin­ued his strong Sum­mer League play with 27 points and 11 re­bounds, and Celtics for­ward Semi Ojel­eye, the No. 37 pick in the sec­ond round of the 2017 draft, had 18 points.

Once again wear­ing his Big Baller Brand bas­ket­ball shoes — this time a pair of black low tops — Ball showed glimpses of the player he can be­come: a gifted passer, solid re­bounder and po­ten­tially ca­pa­ble scorer.

It’s ob­vi­ous he needs to be­come a bet­ter shooter. Right now, teams are go­ing un­der screens and let­ting him shoot three-point­ers. But he’s not the first rookie to strug­gle with the NBA three. Ja­son Kidd strug­gled as a trey shooter be­fore turn­ing into a re­li­able long-ball shooter.

The Lak­ers didn’t draft Ball for his scor­ing, at least not right away. They wanted his court vi­sion, pres­ence, savvy and will­ing­ness to get the ball up the court quickly, and that was on dis­play.

But just as there was no rea­son to over­re­act to his per­for­mance, there is no rea­son to over­re­act the op­po­site way Satur­day. He’s a 19-yearold find­ing his way in the NBA.

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