LOS ANGELES — Lonzo Ball sat the entire fourth quarter on Tuesday.
But this time, Ball got to rest as the Lakers enjoyed a 113-93 blowout win over the Detroit Pistons.
Ball and the starters were benched in the final 3:42 of a loss to Toronto last Friday as coach Luke Walton wanted better transition defense. On this night, Walton got to do something he rarely gets to do — rest his young starters in a Lakers’ blowout.
Even though he didn’t play the fourth, Ball made his impact felt in the game. After taking the blame for the Lakers’ loss on Saturday and even the team’s lack of offense and pace of late, a more aggressive Ball pushed the ball whenever he could and looked to score more than he had in the previous four games. The Lakers played with the same urgency, stopping a two-game slide and halting Detroit’s three-game winning streak.
Ball finished with 13 points, six rebounds and three badists. Ball’s badists total wasn’t nearly an indication of how much the rookie moved the ball and how often times his pbad led to a hockey badist. Many times, Ball would initiate movement with a pbad to a teammate, who immediately hit a cutting teammate for a basket.
But a few of the badists Ball did get were highlight pbades. On one badist, Ball tipped an offensive rebound — left-handed — to Brook Lopez for a score underneath. On another badist, Ball split two Pistons defenders, drove into the lane before dumping the ball off to Andrew Bogut under the basket for another score.
The rookie also didn’t just settle for shooting 3s. While he did drill a stepback 3, Ball looked to drive to the basket or take midrange shots. On one play, Ball did what he does best, grabbing a defensive rebound, pushing up the pace as the Pistons were getting back and scoring at the rim. The rookie shot 6-for-13 from the field, his best shooting night since his second game of the season when he went for a career-high 29 points against Phoenix.
The previous two games had been somewhat rough for Ball. On his 20th birthday on Friday, Ball not only watched Kyle Lowry go for a triple-double but he and the Lakers’ starters were benched for the final 3:42 in a 101-92 loss to Toronto.
Then on Saturday in Utah, Ball watched rookie Donovan Mitchell throw down one of the dunks of the year on a monstrous one-handed follow slam and then a 3-pointer that electrified the Jazz crowd and swung the momentum of the game before the fourth quarter. Ball took blame for the 96-81 loss saying that he should’ve boxed out Mitchell and that his turnover led to the Mitchell 3.
Walton said Ball was not to blame for the loss but he did talk to his point guard about pushing the ball up as much as possible and not walking the ball up court. Ball heeded Walton’s talk. Even in situations when the Lakers couldn’t run and had to walk it up, Ball did so with urgency, looking to initiate the halfcourt offense quicker.
Lonzo Ball stutter steps and makes a 3-pointer to put the Lakers up by five over the Pistons in the first quarter.
“More pace, run on makes, I feel like we are kind of walking up the ball too much,” Ball said of the Lakers averaging 86.5 points per game the past two games. “And that is obviously my fault because I am the point guard so just got to push the pace a little better.”
The Lakers were engaged in this game from the start like they were in their previous win over another team that came into Staples hot — the Washington Wizards. Larry Nance Jr. produced another double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds and also set the tone for hustle when he hit the floor hard for a loose ball with Stanley Johnson.
Kyle Kuzma was a spark again with 16 points and Julius Randle continued his strong play off the bench with 17 points and seven rebounds. Seven Lakers scored in double figures, including Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had 13 points in his first game against his former team. Brandon Ingram was all over the place with 13 points, six badists, five rebounds and four steals.