Lonzo's Second Triple-Double Leads to 127 Points, Win Over Nuggets
Assistant coach Brian Shaw told Lonzo Ball that his overall game is better when he is focused on hitting the glass.
So he went out and grabbed the most rebounds by a rookie guard in 17 years.
That was far from all of Ball’s contributions, as he recorded the second triple-double of his young career and led the Lakers to a 127-109 victory over Denver.
Ball piled up 11 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists to join Magic Johnson as the only players in franchise history with multiple triple-doubles in their rookie season.
This one came just eight days after Ball notched the NBA’s youngest triple-double ever. But the main difference was that the Lakers (7-10) got the win this time around.
“This one’s a lot better,” Ball said. “I actually like this one.”
The 20-year-old seemed to be involved in every area that led to L.A.’s high scoring total.
The Lakers racked up 70 points in the paint, where Ball made four of his five baskets. They hit a dozen 3-pointers, five of which came off Lonzo assists.
Speaking of passing, the Lakers piled up a season-high 36 dimes — many of which came in transition when Ball was at his best, finding both scorers and teammates who then assisted to scorers.
Ball’s said his effectiveness in transition is amplified when he is rebounding, as it allows him to get out on the break faster.
Shaw’s theory about the correlation between rebounding and overall play seems to be accurate.
In three games when Ball grabbed double-digit rebounds this year, he has averaged 20 points, 13 boards, 11 assists and two blocks while shooting 46 percent from the field and 44 percent on 3-pointers.
“My size helps, plus the bigs are usually boxing out,” the 6-foot-6 point guard said. “I’ve got a clear path. Just go up there and go get it.”
Now the Lakers will look for Ball to sustain a similar level of production.
Head coach Luke Walton knows there will be outside pressure for his rookie to do so.
“The media will probably love him tomorrow, hate him again the next day,” Walton said. “He has to stay levelheaded and keep doing what he does and we’re going to keep saying we support him.”
As evidence of Ball’s unprecedented amount of coverage, Walton pointed to his new hairdo.
“He got a haircut and I fielded three questions on the game day about his haircut,” Walton said.
But after playing 40 minutes against Denver, Ball himself is thinking more about the tub than the barber’s chair.
“Ice baths are paying off too,” he said.
With Ball in the pilot’s seat, a hybrid starter-bench lineup turned the game to the Lakers’ advantage.
The Nuggets (9-7) trimmed L.A.’s lead to four in the opening minute of the second quarter. But the small-ball combination of Ball, Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Kuzma, Corey Brewer and Julius Randle was ready to strike back.
The Lakers responded with an 18-2 run that Denver never recovered from.
Randle was at the forefront of the melee, scoring 10 of his game-high 24 points — all at the rim.
“That’s just me,” Randle said. “We just have to be there every night for our team. (I have to be) that aggressive, that assertive (and) quick.”
And Brewer changed the game defensively during the run, swiping four steals in that six-minute stretch.
Brewer and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each finished with four thefts, helping frustrate a Nuggets squad that committed 21 turnovers.
Trailing the Lakers by 20 in that second quarter, Denver’s exasperation peaked when star center Nikola Jokic and head coach Mike Malone were both ejected after screaming at a referee.
The last rookie guard with 16 rebounds was Steve Francis in 2000. … Brook Lopez (21 points) and Clarkson (18) were key to the Lakers’ scoring. … Kuzma (17 points) and Caldwell-Pope (15) hit three 3-pointers apiece. … A sold-out crowd of 18,997 packed STAPLES Center, including actress Rebel Wilson and singer Adam Levine.