Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard Lonzo Ball had a quiet statistical start to his NBA career last night, finishing with three points (on 1-for-6 shooting), nine rebounds, four assists, a steal, a block and two turnovers in a 108-92 home loss to the LA Clippers. A good portion of Ball's struggles could be attributed to the job Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley, a noted defensive stalwart, did in guarding him.
After the game, Ball's outspoken father, LaVar Ball, had some words for Beverley after the Clippers' guard shouted an obscenity that was believed to be directed at Lonzo Ball. ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk and Marc Spears have more:
After the Clippers routed the Los Angeles Lakers 108-92 and held Ball to three points, four assists and nine rebounds in his debut, Beverley was heard screaming, "weak [expletive] [expletive]. Bring him out on the court with me and I will tear his [expletive] up," as he walked off the court and into the locker room.
"Yeah, you shut the [expletive] down," LaVar Ball told ESPN after the game. "And your check still ain't going to go no higher than what it is. Yeah, you shut him down. OK ... Who is Patrick Beverley? He played all last year and nobody said nothing about him. Now we are looking at your first game. Why? Because Lonzo's name is attached to it.
"So you got to be [all hard]," Ball added as he slapped his fists together. "Let's see what you do the next five games, if you are going to be pumped up towards everybody like that and go back to your 0-for-5 shooting and your two or three rebounds. Nobody is going to care about you. But you put my son's name in it and you put my name in it, now you got some action and you got some people talking."
Told that Beverley didn't say Lonzo Ball's name when he screamed on his way into the locker room, LaVar Ball said it didn't matter. He said Beverley tried staring him down in his courtside seats near the Clippers bench during the fourth quarter.
"You ain't got to say it by name because I saw the way he looked at me when he was on the side of the bench," he said. "He was going to see if I can get eye contact. I just looked at him like I looked right past him because he's nobody. You talking to Big Baller.
"One game. OK, you still don't have your own shoe, you are still not your own boss," he continued. "I know why you are looking at me. And you want to tell me that I got your son! Well I got two more you can try to get some of, too. They will be here, don't worry about it. I don't worry about one game."
At one point, Beverley shoved Ball down at halfcourt and drew a foul in the first half. The rookie got Beverley with a nice crossover at one point when Beverley went for a steal and whiffed. But later in the game, Beverley stripped Ball clean near halfcourt for a layup. Beverley finished with 10 points and two steals while Ball had two turnovers.
"I just had to set the tone," Beverley said after the game. "I told him after the game due to all the riff raff that his dad brings that he is going to get a lot of people coming at him. He has to be ready for that, and I let him know after the game. But what a better way to start than 94 feet guarding him."
Ball, who was held out of the fourth quarter with the game out of hand, didn't have any problem with the way Beverley played him.
"[Beverley] plays hard, he knows his job, he does it very well," said Ball, who estimated he had at least 40 friends and family at the game. "He gets under people's skin and plays defense and does what he can to help his team win."
"We got blown out so I didn't play too well."
After the game, LaVar Ball huddled with his son as they do after every game to go over what happened and how the point guard can improve. Lonzo Ball getting off to a slow start is not something new. The rookie struggled in his Las Vegas summer league debut before leading the Lakers to a summer league championship and becoming the MVP.
"Beverley is going to test [people]," LaVar Ball said. "He didn't do nothing. But it is a better story. Lonzo don't even care about Beverley. You never care about Lonzo versus Westbrook, Lonzo versus Harden, Lonzo versus Beverley. Who cares? It is a team game."
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