Morning Shootaround

Eventful 20th birthday for Los Angeles Lakers' Lonzo Ball ends on the bench

NBA.com staff reports

Life is pretty good when you celebrate your 20th birthday as the starting point guard of the Lakers and get tweeted by the game’s greatest player. Well, at least it started well, but Lonzo Ball (and other Lakers) were benched by coach Luke Walton against the Raptors.

Ball has had an up and down rookie season so far, and he had a little of both against the Raptors and Kyle Lowry. His shooting, as feared, has been a major issue. At least he still has seven days to become the youngest player to record a triple double; if he fails, then LeBron James will still own the mark.

Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tells us about Ball’s eventful day:

Lonzo Ball’s day started with LeBron James wishing him a happy birthday, and it ended with Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton benching him and the rest of the team’s starters for the first time this season.

On the day he turned 20, Ball and the starting unit were benched down the stretch of a game that was still within reach as an unhappy Walton tried sending a message to his starters.

Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Larry Nance Jr. and Brook Lopez were all yanked with 3 minutes, 42 seconds remaining and the Lakers trailing 91-83 before dropping a 101-92 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center.

“I took the starters out a little early in the third because they didn’t get back in transition defense. which is our No. 1 key to being a good defensive team,” Walton said. “We talked about how important that third quarter was with the momentum of the game changing and them being a playoff team, so we can’t afford to give those up so as a teaching lesson we took them out a little earlier than I normally have done.”

This was not how Ball envisioned celebrating his birthday. The No. 2 overall pick was hoping to follow up an upset win over John Wall and the Washington Wizards with a victory over the Raptors. But Kyle Lowry gave Ball a taste of an NBA triple-double, posting 11 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for Toronto (3-2).

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