In the annals of Talking Stick Resort Arena, LaVar Ball proclaimed that he expected a triple-double from his son in his second NBA game. Then he walked over to ‘90s hip-hop star Montell Jordan, who sang the national anthem and provided the halftime entertainment, and had this exchange.
Ball: What’s happening, Big Time?
Jordan: How are you doing, man?
Ball: I’ll tell you, you still got it, man.
Jordan: Come on, man.
Ball: No, I told them, the tallest singer in the world, next to me. I don’t know how we —
Jordan: You don’t be singing, man. You don’t sing. Come on, now.
Ball: WHAT? With you, Montell? This is how I do it!
[Ball begins dancing]
Ball: Hey, man, I’ll be working on it.
A family entourage numbering about 40 had come to see Lonzo Ball in his regular-season debut at Staples Center, a loss to the Clippers. In what’s become a familiar theme for Ball’s young career, he struggled in his opener. Then he bounced back in a big way in his second game.
A Ball contingent that included Lonzo’s youngest brother, LaMelo, and his mother, Tina, made its way to Phoenix, too, and saw a rare performance from the Lakers’ young point guard.
Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 132-130 win over the Phoenix Suns.
- There was a moment near the end of the game that caught my eye. With his teammates going nuts around him after a big sequence that gave them a comfortable lead, Lonzo Ball was emotionless. For the next minute and 35 seconds, the Lakers nearly let their eight-point lead slip away. They didn’t make another shot and a Devin Booker three-pointer brought the Suns within one. When the game, ended, though, there was no celebration. While it must have felt good to get the win, they knew they escaped with one.
- Those of us watching were caught up in the theater of Ball being so close to a triple-double. He got his ninth assist of the game with 2:30 left, and by then already had a double-double. The players in the game had no idea. Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram both expressed regret that they didn’t get Ball his 10th assist. Ingram had an attempt that he missed off a pass from Ball.
- And speaking of Kuzma, he also had a bounce-back game. Kuzma made six of seven shots with 15 points. He told me the first-game jitters were out of the way on Friday night. It also allowed the Lakers to keep him on the floor longer with Ball. That was a connection that was really effective in Summer League and during the two preseason games in which Ball played.
- In Friday’s takeaways, I mentioned Julius Randle’s clear displeasure at not starting and how it affected his play in Thursday night’s opener. That didn’t improve on Friday. Randle played only 12 minutes and looked disengaged when the Lakers huddled while he wasn’t playing. Randle scored eight points with one rebound, one assist and one turnover.
- In search of more “natural energy,” Lakers coach Luke Walton changed the starting lineup on Friday. After starting on Thursday, Luol Deng was inactive on Friday. Corey Brewer started in his place and had the team’s highest plus/minus rating at 19.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli