Lakers Advance Behind Another Lonzo Triple-Double
Over the last decade, none of the thousands of players at the Las Vegas Summer League had ever recorded a triple-double. Now, Lonzo Ball has two in six days.
Ball’s latest show — a 16-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound outburst — lifted the Lakers over the previously unbeaten Cleveland Cavaliers, 94-83, in the second round of the Summer League tournament on Thursday.
They advance to face the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday at 7 p.m. PT.
Ball — who also had a 36-point, 11-assist night in between his triple-doubles — has been hotter than the Vegas heat this week, which has hardly come as a surprise to Summer League head coach Jud Buechler.
Before the event began, he informed his squad that they planned to revolve the offense around Ball’s transition playmaking.
“I told them at the start: We don’t even want to run sets — we have Lonzo,” Buechler said. “We want to rebound and get out and run.”
Zo serves up the lob and Thomas Bryant slams it down! pic.twitter.com/CQLwmOpChz— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 14, 2017
They certainly did, hanging up 94 points on a Cavs team that allowed only 72.3 per game across their first three contests.
Ball was at the heart of this, as he recorded as many assists as Cleveland did as a team.
In addition to his dozen dimes, he started fast-breaks himself by swiping five steals and swatting two blocks.
Ball’s go-to receiver continued to be Kyle Kuzma, who, on Wednesday, likened their relationship to New England Patriots greats Tom Brady and Randy Moss.
“It’s hard for a lot of forwards to run with him,” Ball said. “So he keeps getting down the court before all of them and I’m just throwing it to him. He’s doing the rest.”
The duo found the end zone four times together, including on back-to-back outlet passes in the third quarter. But Kuzma — who led the Lakers with 20 points and four 3-pointers — saved one in the holster for the final minute.
A triple from Cleveland’s Kay Felder trimmed the Lakers’ lead to five with two minutes left before Alex Caruso responded with a trey of his own.
Knowing that the Lakers needed one more bucket to ice the game, Ball found Kuzma at the top of the arc for the dagger 3-pointer.
Kuzma leads the Lakers in scoring at Summer League with 18.3 points per game, which he attributes to his “supreme confidence.”
“My expectation was just to come in and try to dominate and try to impose my will (against) every single guy I play,” Kuzma said.
It certainly helps having a teammate like Lonzo, who — despite also having seven turnovers — had the entire team spreading the ball around via his contagious passing.
Ball also shot just 6-of-20 from the field and 2-of-10 on 3-pointers, but liked the looks he was getting and plans to keep firing.
In the meantime — now that he has his conditioning back after not playing competitively for four months — he could take comfort in setting up his teammates, like Ivica Zubac, who had a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double.
But Ball only cares about one result.
“We got a win,” he said, “so you know I’m happy.”
Vander Blue scored 18 points, while Caruso — who signed a two-way contract with the Lakers earlier in the day — had seven points and three assists. … Felder led Cleveland with 25 points. … The Cavs shot just 36.0 percent from the field, including 1-of-13 on 3-pointers. … Coach Luke Walton and center Brook Lopez were among those in attendance at Thomas & Mack Center.