Lonzo Ball barely reacted to his great feat.
On Saturday night, Ball became the youngest player to achieve a triple-double in the NBA at 20 years 15 days. He did it when Milwaukee’s Thon Maker airballed a three-pointer and Ball caught it underneath the basket, 21 seconds into the fourth quarter. It was perhaps his easiest rebound of the night, but the one that made history.
“I really don’t care,” Ball said. “We took a loss. It don’t really mean nothing. … I just wanted to win tonight. I thought we were in good position to get it but it didn’t happen.”
Ball had 19 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in the Lakers’ 98-90 loss. He also notched three steals and blocked four shots, making him the first player in NBA history with that stat line. The Lakers were led by their rookies. Kyle Kuzma was the only Laker to score more points than Ball. He had 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The Lakers fell to 5-8 and have lost three games on this trip.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points for the Bucks and 15 rebounds, 12 of them on defense. The Lakers got as close as seven points in the fourth quarter but couldn’t seal Ball’s historic game with a win.
After the game, Ball didn’t celebrate his accomplishment. Most of his teammates had no idea what had happened until reporters told them. Had it happened at Staples Center, the arena might have announced it. But in Milwaukee, the game continued as if nothing happened.
“I would think it was cool,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “Whether he thinks it’s cool, Zo’s a tough one to figure out, so you’re gonna have to ask him. But I would think it’s a pretty cool record to have.”
Ball had flirted with a triple-double before. He was one assist away from a triple-double in Phoenix on October 20. In Washington this past Thursday, Ball had 10 points, eight assists and eight rebounds.
Ball got the double-digit points first Saturday, on a night when his shooting slump finally broke. He made his first two three-point attempts and four of his first five shots overall. He made seven of 12 shots and three of five three-point attempts overall.
“He’s been struggling all year,” Kuzma said. “Once he hit that first three he must have got a little confident. I was happy for him, he’s been in a slump pretty much all year so it’s good for him to do that.”
The assists came next. Ball’s 10th assist came with 3 minutes 53 seconds left in the second quarter when he kicked the ball to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for a three-pointer.
Seven of Ball’s assists came in the second quarter.
The rebounds, though proved a tougher challenge. In the third, Ball grabbed one that might have been his 10th, but a Brook Lopez foul just before he did negated the rebound.
Then, 21 seconds into the fourth quarter, Maker shot an airball that Ball collected underneath the basket.
Before Saturday, LeBron James was the youngest player ever to get an NBA triple-double. He accomplished the feat Jan. 19, 2005, when he was 20 years 20 days old. James did it in his second season, while Ball did it in his 13th NBA game.
Before Saturday, Magic Johnson had been the youngest Laker ever to notch a triple-double. He did it when he was 20 years 75 days old.
Almost everything about Ball’s day leading up to his accomplishment was normal except for two things.
Friday night his father called him and reassured him about his brother’s LiAngelo’s situation in China. Ball hadn’t spoken to any of his family members since LiAngelo’s arrest on Tuesday for alleged shoplifting. UCLA’s men’s basketball team has returned to Los Angeles, but his brother and family remain in China.
The other anomaly was the opposing coach.
Bucks Coach Jason Kidd was an NBA point guard for 19 years and a 10-time all star, whose first career triple-double came 22 years ago against the Lakers. Ball has been compared to Kidd, who has hesitated to embrace the comparisons this early in the young Laker’s career.
But even he left impressed with what he saw.