Lonzo Ball walks out of the tunnel before facing the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 26, 2018.
(Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

Fast-Break Points: Quick Hits of the Lakers' Week (2/28/18)

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

The one word never associated with the Lakers: boring.

On and off the floor, the Lakers keep it interesting, from unique skill sets and backgrounds to off-court chemistry and the latest kicks.

Here’s a quick run-through of another week with the Lake Show.

1) That Zo-Zu connection
In Lonzo Ball’s two games since returning from injury, he has found a nice chemistry with Ivica Zubac, who has soaked up the frontcourt minutes made available by trading Larry Nance Jr.

In only 19 minutes on the floor together, Ball has hit Zubac for four assists, plus three more passes that led directly to free throws for the big guy.

Zubac is making the most of his opportunity, shooting a robust 20-of-25 from the field in his last four appearances. It helps having a point guard like Ball, who can put him in good positions down low.

2) STAPLES Center East

The above Twitter thread received a lot of attention for the Atlanta Hawks trying to paint Lakers fans as living in the past.

First, who doesn’t love a good throwback jersey? Guarantee there are people who rock Dominique Wilkins and Dikembe Mutombo jerseys to every Hawks game.

Second, the thread really is more of a testament to how the Lakers’ massive fan base can make a game on the other side of the country feel like it’s at STAPLES Center.

The fact that there were people wearing the jerseys of Kobe Bryant, Nick Van Exel, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper and Shaquille O’Neal goes to show how decades of success has led to one of the largest collection of sports fans in the world.

And those fans made themselves heard at the end of a 19-point rout, filling the visiting arena with chants of “Let’s go Lakers!” as the clock ran out.

3) Lopez in the driver’s seat
The Lakers’ most efficient driver is probably one of the last players you would suspect.

But here he is, all seven feet of him. Brook Lopez is shooting a team-best 57.9 percent on drives (33-of-57).

The Lakers have plenty of good slashers on their team — including Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart — but Lopez sports the highest percentage, and ranks third among the league’s centers behind only Karl-Anthony Towns (59.8) and Kelly Olynyk (59.5).

Opponents know that Lopez has a perpetual green light from 3-point range, so he smartly takes advantage when they sell out to contest the triple by attacking their closeouts with his rumbling, herky-jerky driving style.

It’s an interesting wrinkle to the league’s fastest-paced team: a 7-footer who routinely schools defenders by shifting down into first gear and sauntering in for a bucket.

4) IT getting his kicks

Lakers color commentator Stu Lantz called it a “flat tire.”

With less than eight minutes remaining in Sacramento, Isaiah Thomas had to come out of the game when his shoe literally fell apart on him.

But IT checked back into a tied game a minute later and had little trouble adjusting to his backup pair of Kobes. He handed out three assists in the final seven minutes and hit four clutch free throws, helping the Lakers to victory up in NorCal.

5) Surprise screens
Speaking of Thomas, the shortest player in the NBA has unexpectedly been one of the most effective screeners on the team.

At 5-foot-9, Thomas has done a nice job of surprising guys a foot or more taller by popping in sneaky picks that give teammates open paths to the basket or opportunities to step out for 3.

Coach Luke Walton has done a nice job of drawing up plays for Thomas to catch players off guard with back screens, and Thomas himself has shown an understanding for when to improvise and set a pick on a defender falling asleep.

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