Top Stories

Lonzo Ball shoulders blame for struggling Lakers' loss to Utah Jazz

NBA.com staff reports

* Recap: Jazz 96, Lakers 81

Lonzo Ball’s brief tenure in the NBA has produced plenty of high-profile highs and lows for the Los Angeles Lakers’ rookie point guard. He’s learning on the job that life in the NBA isn’t nearly as easy as some (his father LaVar Ball) might have believed. He’s also finding out just how difficult it is to carry the fortunes of a franchise on your shoulders.

But to his credit, Ball is also learning how to shoulder the responsibility for his failings, making it clear that he knows when his actions contribute to the Lakers’ bottom line. In short, Ball already understands that he has to accept the blame when his mistakes put the Lakers in a precarious position, as was the case Saturday night in Salt Lake City. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN explains:

Lonzo Ball accepted blame for Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell’s momentum-changing, one-handed putback dunk and the Los Angeles Lakers’ eventual 96-81 loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

“Put this loss on me,” Ball said. “We were coming back. Two dumb plays by me, and they got up.”

Ball, the Lakers’ No. 2 overall pick, was held to 9 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 5 turnovers. It was the first time this season that Ball failed to post at least 7 rebounds in a game.

Ball and the Lakers fell behind 31-16 at the end of the first quarter but were within six late in the third, when Mitchell came flying from the wing on an Alec Burks’ missed 3, catching and throwing down the rebound with a thunderous, one-handed putback dunk that electrified the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Ball was in position to grab the rebound, and no one boxed out Mitchell, who had a running start. Ball then threw a turnover on the ensuing play, and that led to a Mitchell 3-pointer that pushed the Jazz lead back to 11 heading into the fourth. The Lakers got no closer than five after that.

“That was my fault,” Ball said of the Mitchell putback dunk, which Lakers coach Luke Walton said swung the momentum. “If you think about it, that kind of changed the whole course of the game. … I should have boxed him out. Then I threw the turnover.”

Ball struck a more defiant and determined tone on Twitter after the loss.

While Ball has arguably had the most attention and hype around him in this draft class, Mitchell was the best rookie on the floor Saturday. The 13th overall pick, Mitchell made nine of 16 shots and had a career-high 22 points to lead the Jazz (3-3).

Ball rediscovered his outside shot, making three 3-pointers after shooting 1-for-14 from behind the arc in his previous three games.

* * *

Latest