Magic John­son daz­zled by Ball magic for Lak­ers

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LOS AN­GE­LES: Magic John­son be­lieves Lonzo Ball’s daz­zling per­for­mances in the Las Ve­gas Sum­mer League are a shape of things to come as the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers at­tempt to re­gain former glo­ries.

Ball, cho­sen by the Lak­ers with the sec­ond over­all pick in the draft, was named MVP of the sum­mer league af­ter post­ing two triple dou­bles and record­ing four games with 10 as­sists or more.

The 19-year-old’s per­for­mances rewrote the record books in the sum­mer league. Un­til this year, no rookie had posted more than one with 10 as­sists and no rookie had com­pleted more than one triple dou­ble.

Ac­cord­ing to John­son, that bodes well for the Lak­ers’ fu­ture. “If he’s get­ting triple­dou­bles in the sum­mer league, he is go­ing to get triple-dou­bles in the reg­u­lar sea­son,” John­son, the Lak­ers pres­i­dent of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions, told re­porters Tues­day. “Just like me, when I got here, there was pres­sure. I was the No. 1 pick. I didn’t care about that. I am go­ing to play my game. Lonzo is go­ing to play his game. The great ones do,” he was quoted by ESPN as say­ing.

John­son, who was speak­ing at the un­veil­ing of Ken­tavi­ous Cald­well-Pope at their El Se­gundo train­ing base, said he had seen sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Ball and him­self in his per­for­mances to date.

“Lonzo is spe­cial, no ques­tion about it, be­cause he makes ev­ery­one bet­ter,” John­son said. “He does some­thing you can’t teach. He gives you a scor­ing pass. Very few point guards in this league can do that. I am talk­ing about giv­ing you a pass that leads to the score, not just pass­ing it to you . ... I like him be­cause he also is now a great team­mate. He has a spe­cial ef­fect on peo­ple.”

The Lak­ers, who com­pleted the worst sea­son in the fran­chise’s his­tory in 2016 with a 17-65 record, and were sec­ond bot­tom in the Western Con­fer­ence last sea­son, were al­ready a bet­ter team, John­son said. “The ros­ter is more bal­anced. We saw the ball move­ment in sum­mer league . ... We want to go up and down . ... Also, our prac­tices are go­ing to be amaz­ing, and that will lead to us get­ting bet­ter in games,” he said. —AFP

— AP

LAS VE­GAS: Los An­ge­les Lak­ers’ Lonzo Ball holds up the tro­phy for the most valu­able player in the NBA sum­mer league, be­fore the team’s bas­ket­ball game against the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers in Las Ve­gas.

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