Lonzo Ball Goes for Near Triple-Double as Lakers Come Back to Beat Grizzlies

Los Angeles Lakers' Lonzo Ball in action during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Monday, March 19, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Lonzo Ball overcame a slow start to help the Los Angeles Lakers pull off a 100-93 comeback win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. 

After playing 44 minutes in Thursday’s loss against the New Orleans Pelicans, Ball was on the floor for 42 minutes against the Grizzlies. The rookie point guard nearly had a triple-double with 12 points of 5-of-13 shooting, 10 assists and eight rebounds. 

Playing short-handed with Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Luol Deng and Brandon Ingram out with injuries, the Lakers were out of sorts when they fell behind 32-17 early in the second quarter. 

During that ugly start, Ball did present the Lakers with one of their highlights on this terrific alley-oop pass to Kyle Kuzma:

Ball was limited to just five points in the first half, but the Lakers finished strong before intermission to close their deficit to 57-52. 

Coming out of the break is when things really turned around for Ball and the Lakers. He nearly matched his first-half scoring total in the first minute of the third quarter with back-to-back easy baskets, including this slam on a steal:

That was part of Los Angeles’ 10-2 run between the end of the second quarter and start of the third quarter that tied the game at 59. 

As had been the case throughout the Lakers’ four-game losing streak, their defense sputtered. Memphis immediately went on its own 9-0 run to jump back out in front 68-59, leading to head coach Luke Walton’s calling a timeout to settle his team down. 

The strategy paid off because Walton’s team closed the third quarter on a run of its own that tied the score at 71 heading into the last 12 minutes. 

Ball provided the exclamation point during that 12-3 Lakers run with an assist from Kuzma that also put him into double digits in points for the first time since March 9. 

The Kuzma-Ball connection served Los Angeles well throughout the game. Ball returned the favor in the fourth quarter when Kuzma hit a go-ahead three-pointer that gave the Lakers their first lead since scoring the opening basket. 

Lakerholicz.com noted the versatile skill set Ball presents that makes it easy to look past his erratic shooting skills:

With 10 games remaining this season, the Lakers’ 32 wins are already their most since the 2012-13 campaign. They have made excellent strides to get back to respectability. 

Ball is still inconsistent as a shooter, but the different ways he impacts a game on both sides of the ball have given the Lakers exactly what they could have hoped for in his debut season.