Lakers coach Luke Walton says Lonzo Ball’s scoring ability will improve
Luke Walton didn’t flinch in explaining away Lonzo Ball’s unsightly three-of-21 shooting from three-point range during the last three games.
The rookie point guard “does those things,” the Lakers coach said following Wednesday night’s loss at Golden State that completed the Warriors’ first season sweep of their Pacific Division rivals since 1993-94.
From Walton’s perspective, Ball’s first-season development is going to feature missteps like his one-of-eight showing against former Laker Nick Young and a team missing All-Star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
“As he continues to grow as a player, he’ll develop other parts,” Walton said Wednesday night. “He depends a lot on his three, but a lot of that is because teams go under on him. That’s the open shot for him.
“He’ll get more to his game, as far as being able to score more effectively — mid-range, around the rim — as he grows as a player. But the assists and steals, that’s why we went on that run in the first half. He was the one rotating over to get all those deflections. He does all those little things to help us win. The offense will come.”
Walton expressed confidence that Ball’s three-point touch will make a return, too.
“We’re not going to take him out either way,” Walton said.
End of the line
Guard Alex Caruso’s 45-day, two-way stint with the Lakers closed in Wednesday’s game as he contributed four points and three steals in 21 minutes. He returns to the Lakers’ G League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers, for a game Thursday night.
“I’ve done some positive things,” Caruso said Wednesday. “I would’ve liked to have won tonight, but over the course of the year, I think I’ve improved and have a good landscape of what I need to do to get better.”
Caruso is eligible to return to the Lakers after the G League season ends March 24.
The 24-year-old, who averaged 2.7 points, let the occasion pass as if it were another day at the office.
“Honestly, it felt just like another day,” he said. “I’ve known for a couple days this would be my last day. It didn’t affect me much. Now, I head back, have a game [Thursday], get ready for the next game.
“There’s stuff I bring to the team that’s useful. The coaching staff trusts me. I’ll try to improve to help the team win more games in the future.”
Walton said injured forward Kyle Kuzma (ankle) was to undergo treatment during Thursday’s nonpractice day and would be evaluated before Friday’s home game against the Miami Heat.
Kuzma said after testing the ankle in a light shooting session Wednesday in Oakland that he was hopeful to play Friday.
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
On Air: TV: NBA TV, Specturm SportsNet, Spectrum Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330
Update: The Heat (36-33), who are fighting for a lower playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference, have not fared well on the road since Feb. 13, when they have gone 6-1 at home and 0-6 on the road, including losses in Portland on Monday and Sacramento on Wednesday.
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire
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