Morning Shootaround

Lonzo Ball willing to take blame for Los Angeles Lakers' losses staff reports

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The microscope Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball plays under each night could often not be more intense. Heavy doses of speculation and analysis of his game mark each Lakers contest, perhaps moreso than any other rookie in the 2017-18 season — and any momentary lapses in concentration or mistakes by Ball are magnified accordingly.

Such was the case after Saturday’s road loss to the Utah Jazz, in which Ball took the blame for some key mistakes he made that night. After practice yesterday, Ball explained how and why he’s so willing to shoulder the blame in defeats, writes Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

This season isn’t two weeks old yet and with one more loss by the Lakers (2-4), Ball will match the number of losses he experienced in the past two years. Through the Lakers’ early failures, one constant has emerged: Ball takes the blame publicly and sincerely. It’s a quality that resonates with his team.

“That is how I was brought up; I am not going to change,” Ball said. “…It is a team game, we all play for each other; obviously we win and lose as a team, but I like to take the blame when we lose.”

Ball learned about accountability from his father, LaVar. He also grew up idolizing LeBron James, whom he saw shouldering the burden whenever his teams struggled.

“He still plays the same way to the day,” Ball said. “He always takes it.”

“It’s not his fault we lost,” coach Luke Walton said Monday. “…I love that he wants to take responsibility for it, that’s what leaders do, they put it on their back, but it’s not on him that we lost that game. He did a lot of things very well that night, too.”

The sincere desire to take the blame is a leadership quality that can seem forced in some players, and one the Lakers didn’t see in former point guard D’Angelo Russell. They traded Russell to the Nets just before the draft. Days after drafting Ball, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson complimented Russell as a player, but said “I needed a leader.”

Ball isn’t excessively vocal, though he does come out of his shell as he grows more comfortable with people. The Lakers lauded his playing style as one that lends itself to leadership. His accountability does, too.

“He’s very honest,” Walton said. “Even when he talks to the media, he doesn’t give long answers but he speaks what he feels and he speaks his truth. So if he says that, I believe he’s saying that because he believes it, not because it’s what people should say.”

By Monday’s practice, Walton saw no remnants of the anguish Ball felt after Saturday’s game.

“From the short amount of time I’ve spent with him since he’s been with us, he doesn’t normally hang on to things too long,” Walton said. “… He seems like mentally that part of the NBA he’s good with as far as how many games we play and being ready every other night for another challenge.”

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