Lak­ers over­come Ball’s in­jury to beat Mavs, reach ti­tle game

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Lonzo Ball’s bid for a third straight triple-dou­ble was short-cir­cuited by a calf in­jury. The lead he helped the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers build while he was in the game proved to be just enough to top Den­nis Smith Jr. and the Dal­las Mav­er­icks. Ball had 16 points and 10 as­sists in 21 min­utes be­fore leav­ing with a strained right calf, and the Lak­ers held on for a 108-98 vic­tory in the Las Ve­gas Sum­mer League semi­fi­nals on Sun­day night. Kyle Kuzma scored 24 points, Matt Thomas had 20 and Van­der Blue added 17 to help the Lak­ers reach the cham­pi­onship game. They will face the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers, who beat Mem­phis 87 -82 in the other semi­fi­nal, tonight.

Smith scored 21 points on 7-for-13 shoot­ing for the Mav­er­icks, who trailed by as many as 26 points in the sec­ond half be­fore mount­ing a huge come­back in the fourth quar­ter. Yogi Fer­rell added 15 points and Do­rian Fin­ney-Smith and Bran­don Ash­ley each had 13.

Wear­ing Jor­dans on his feet in­stead of the fam­ily’s Big Baller Brand ZO2s, Ball made 5 of 7 shots and had a beau­ti­ful punch-ahead pass to Alex Caruso for a dunk that had thou­sands of Lak­ers fans out of their seats in the first half. He also had four re­bounds, putting him well on his way to this third triple-dou­ble of sum­mer league play be­fore his right calf tight­ened up.

Ball tried to jog it off in a back hall­way in the third quar­ter, but he was hob­bling a lit­tle bit and was shut down for the re­main­der of the game. Lak­ers sum­mer league coach Jud Buech­ler said it was too soon to tell if Ball would be avail­able for the cham­pi­onship game.

“His health comes first,” Buech­ler told re­porters af­ter the game. “We’ll see how he feels in the morn­ing.” The in­jury took a lit­tle of the edge away from an an­tic­i­pated matchup of two rookie point guards who have ex­celled in Ve­gas. Ball was drafted sec­ond over­all and Den­nis Smith was taken ninth. Both have been cast as the fu­ture faces of their re­spec­tive fran­chises, and both have made strong first im­pres­sions in sum­mer league play.

The two went right at each other from the jump, com­bin­ing to hit their first seven field goals in a back-and-forth af­fair. The Lak­ers led by as many as 26 points be­fore the Mav­er­icks mounted a come­back, trim­ming the deficit to two with 2 min­utes to play. Smith went right to the rim, us­ing a lit­tle Euro-step to draw a foul. But Thomas, who went 6 of 7 from 3-point range, hit a 3 on the other end and the Lak­ers were able to hold off the charge. In the other game on Sun­day night.


Jar­nell Stokes had 22 points and 15 re­bounds to lead Port­land over Mem­phis in the first semi­fi­nal on Sun­day night. Caleb Swani­gan con­tin­ued his strong sum­mer league with 15 points and 11 re­bounds for the Blaz­ers, who trailed by 16 points in the first half be­fore ral­ly­ing to over­take the Grizzlies in the sec­ond half. Stokes got his NBA start with the Grizzlies, play­ing 19 games for Mem­phis in 2014-15 af­ter he was ac­quired in a draft-night trade with Utah. The Grizzlies traded Stokes to Mi­ami the fol­low­ing sea­son in the deal that brought Mario Chalmers to Mem­phis. He played two games with the Nuggets last sea­son. Wayne Selden led the Grizzlies with 13 points in 22 min­utes. Jorge Gu­tier­rez added 16 points and eight as­sists, in­clud­ing a pair of nifty, be­hind-the-back passes for easy layups, for the Grizzlies. — AP

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