Lakers’ Lonzo Ball earns respect, and a win, against another top point guard

A fan of Lonzo Ball started opposite the Lakers rookie Sunday night at Staples Center.

That was Memphis’ Mike Conley, a 10-year veteran who was once in Ball’s shoes as a highly drafted point guard.

“He’s handled his situation about as good as anybody could,” Conley said before the game. “He seems like a great player, great attitude. All about the team. He’s my kind of player in a sense. I like guys who are unselfish, who are about the wins more than anything else.

“He’s got a lot of room to grow obviously, but he’ll be fantastic for this league going forward and end up being a star.”

Conley posed yet another tough challenge for Ball, who already had faced Washington’s John Wall and Portland’s Damian Lillard. Conley outscored Ball 23-9, but the rookie had three times as many assists (nine) and the Lakers won 107-102.


“He’s very fast,” Ball said of Conley. “Good at pick and roll. He’s a smart player. Good player.”

Ball’s father, LaVar, occasionally has made comments that rankled other players. Conley isn’t one of them, but he does hear the chatter.

“If it’s something funny, everybody will probably be talking about it in the locker room,” Conley said. “I watch film on him and worry about Lonzo.”

Nance on the mend

Larry Nance Jr. is dealing with a new challenge: trying to fit a video game controller into his left hand, which is covered by a cast.

“I’ve tried to fit Xbox, the Switch, Playstation,” Nance said. “None of the controllers fit and it’s pretty frustrating.”

It was a moment of levity as Nance talked about a much greater frustration. He finally had earned a starting job in his third season. Then, eight games in, he broke his hand. Nance had surgery to repair the injury on Friday.

Nance said the injury happened when he bit on a pump fake by Portland’s Caleb Swanigan.

“I came down on his shoulder and kind of pinched myself, pinched my hand, in between my body weight going down and his body weight going back up, and I just felt it pop,” Nance said. “It was one of those immediate [injuries where] I knew what happened.”

Nance will miss about four to six weeks.

“He’s done a great job of training and staying ready and taking advantage of that opportunity, now the injury knocks him out,” coach Luke Walton said. “I know what that’s like as a player. It can be frustrating. You start to feel — at least I started to feel — a little distant from my team. But he’s the type of guy that he always supports his teammates when he was not playing and I would expect them to be supportive. The good thing about the hand is you can still do all the running and conditioning so he won’t be completely out for four to six [weeks].”

Help from Mickey?

Brook Lopez, who scored 21 points Sunday night, has averaged 27.3 in the last three games. He’s also made 10 three-pointers in the last two, after making only eight in the previous eight games combined.

So what’s gotten into him? Ball has a theory.

“He be watching Disney Channel all the time,” Ball said. “His favorite shows might have been coming on.”

Twitter: @taniaganguli