Lonzo Ball celebrated his 20th birthday with a starting nod against the Toronto Raptors ... and a spot on the bench down the stretch of the game. A little more than two weeks later, Ball went through the same feat again -- and handled it with the same maturity he handled the first such instance.
* Recap: Lakers 100, Suns 93
The Los Angeles Lakers toppled the Phoenix Suns on the road last night, but Ball was not on the court for the final few minutes of the third quarter and all of the fourth. According to Lakers coach Luke Walton, Ball wasn't reinserted into the lineup because the guard combination of veteran Corey Brewer and youngster Jordan Clarkson were hot down the stretch. After the game, Ball treated the role change in the game with aplomb, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com:
"We got a win so I got no complaints," said Ball, who exited the game with 2:47 left in the third quarter for Clarkson. "My teammates got it done in the fourth and we had to at least get one on this road trip."
"We got the win, everything worked out, so I got no complaints and J.C. was hot," he added. "I would have rolled with him, too."
Ball shot 3-for-10 and had seven points, five assists, five rebounds, two steals and four turnovers when he left the game for good in the third quarter with the Suns (5-10) up by four.
Walton noted, too, that this game was a prime example of when young players must simply watch and learn from the veterans on their team.
"Part of the development is that, though," said Walton, who also noted how he played starter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for only three minutes in the fourth. "The way the NBA's supposed to work and has worked, as long as I can remember, is young players come in and sit. And they watch vets do it, and they watch how vets do it. And they watch how vets train, how they take care of their body. And, they get hungry.
"As they get opportunities, they're more professional because they've learned from people who have done it before them. For any of our young guys to sit there, and if a vet's having a good game like Brewer was tonight, seeing how hard he works and seeing how he stayed ready even though he hadn't been playing big minutes, is part of the developmental plan for them."
Ball's second game in Phoenix did not go offensively the way it did the last time he was here. During the Lakers' second game of the season, Ball lit the Suns up for his best pro game with 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
However, the end result was the same with the Lakers coming away with a win, which is all Ball cares about.
"My teammates got it done in the fourth and we had to at least get one on this road trip," said Ball, whose Lakers lost at Boston, Washington and Milwaukee on this trip. "Corey must like playing in Phoenix, this is the second time he came through for us out here, and J.C. is going to do what he does every time, so those two guys picked us up, especially down the stretch."
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