Lakers’ Lonzo Ball and rapper Quavo hit it off
Lonzo Ball made a three-point basket and trotted back down the court as the rapper Quavo, from the group Migos, reached out to congratulate him.
Ball’s celebrity is such that this wasn’t a random encounter. Earlier in the day, Ball had listed Quavo among his top five rappers of today. Before Quavo joined the thousands of fans at Philips Arena on Monday night, he let Ball know he was coming to the game.
“Hopefully he enjoyed the show,” Ball said. “I’m just a fan of what he does and he’s a fan of what we do.”
That interaction had more to do with a budding friendship than with Ball’s excitement at making a three-pointer. Despite Ball being out for 15 games because of a sprained knee, his shooting didn’t skip a beat when he returned. On Monday night, he made all four of the shots he took and all three of his three-point shots. Ball even made his two free-throw attempts.
“I can shoot,” Ball said. “I just missed at the beginning of the year. I told you I was going to keep shooting and now they are going in.”
Ball’s shooting form, and the low percentage of shots he made early in the season, caused some hand-wringing as his NBA career began. His new teammate Isaiah Thomas gets that.
“I mean it’s ugly as hell,” Thomas said. “It’s an ugly shot, but he’s been successful with it his whole life so you get to the highest level, there is no need to change it. You just got to figure out ways to continue to make it better. He is a gym rat so he is going to continue to get better no matter what and no matter how it looks.”
In Ball’s second game back, he had a minutes restriction of 25, up from 20 minutes in his first game back against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. On Friday, Ball made half of his three-point shots.
“It’s how he was shooting before he got hurt,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “I would’ve expected it would take him a little bit of time to find his rhythm again. … But he’s shooting with a lot of confidence.”
Nine Lakers scored in double figures on Monday, making it the first time the Lakers had done that since Jan. 7, 1987, in a 147-109 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
That game was also the Lakers’ 26th win of the season, but they were 26-6 at the time, in the middle of their Showtime Era. In that game 31 years ago, Byron Scott, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, A.C. Green, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper, Kurt Rambis, Billy Thompson and Adrian Branch scored in double figures.
On Monday night, Ball, Thomas, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma and Ivica Zubac all scored in double figures.
Ingram joined Pau Gasol, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant as the only Lakers to have 21 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in a game.
Walton on Arizona
Walton’s alma mater, Arizona, is under fire for potential NCAA violations related to an FBI probe into corruption in college basketball.
Arizona men’s basketball coach Sean Miller was reportedly heard on a wire-tapped telephone discussing a $100,000 payment to ensure Deandre Ayton would attend Arizona.
“It’s unfortunate,” Walton said. “Obviously I’ve got a lot of love for my program. … I feel like Sean’s done a lot of good things too. It’s a little early to be judging so harshly. I think it’s a tough job and obviously if what is said is true, that’s a mistake that he made. But I thought Sean’s done a really nice job so far with his time at Arizona.”
Walton said Miller does a good job of reaching out to alumni. Miller replaced Lute Olson, the coach for whom Walton played.
“I don’t get back anymore because the only time we can go is in the summer, and Tucson in the summer is a little hot for me, but it’s been a great relationship with them even since coach Olson’s left,” Walton said.
The Hawks placed veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova on waivers before the game.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli
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