Bruins display their dazzle in romp of Long Beach State
Showtime visited Pauley Pavilion on Sunday night, and not just because Pat Riley sat behind the UCLA bench.
The onetime Lakers coach, who orchestrated one of the most dazzling offenses in NBA history, was presumably on hand to scout Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf for his current job as president of the Miami Heat.
The freshmen gave Riley plenty to ponder during No. 16 UCLA’s 114-77 rout of Long Beach State that extended the Bruins’ season-opening stretch of dominance.
“I hope he enjoyed the show,” Ball said after a heady performance that included a career-high 20 points on eight-for-11 shooting to go with 11 assists.
Ball made several passes that were reminiscent of Lakers legend Magic Johnson’s work, and Leaf showed superb skill around the basket for a 6-foot-10 forward who may not be finished growing.
Ball was in a sharing mood, logging assists on five of UCLA’s first nine baskets. There was a no-look pass that led to an Isaac Hamilton layup, a cross-court delivery for a Bryce Alford three-pointer and a flip to Leaf for an easy basket on a fastbreak.
“In transition, they share the ball like a team I’ve not seen,” Bruins Coach Steve Alford said. “I mean, they just have a great knack of finding each other and sharing it and making the right plays.”
Ball also showed how to be on the receiving end of passes, taking alley-oop feeds from Aaron Holiday and Bryce Alford for two-handed dunks that energized fans before fetching a lob that Holiday bounced off the backboard on a breakaway for one final crowd-pleasing dunk.
The Bruins (4-0) were ahead by 41 points by then and Ball’s night was done with more than seven minutes left in the game.
ESPN might experience a ratings bump in Westwood with players staying up to watch whether their highlights have made “SportsCenter.”
They’re out to top themselves after Ball was awarded the top play of the day with a dunk during the team’s season opener. Bryce Alford said he told Leaf the Bruins might have the top three plays Sunday.
“It’s really fun, the way we’re playing,” Alford said.
Steve Alford called it his team’s most complete game after the Bruins came up with 10 steals and forced 23 turnovers.
“What took us to another level as a team tonight was the way we defended,” Alford said. “That ignites our offense.”
Leaf repeatedly beat overmatched defenders with a variety of moves and finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. He took LaRond Williams off the dribble for a driving layup, dribbled around Roschon Prince for a dunk and outmaneuvered Gabe Levin for another point-blank basket.
Hamilton added 18 points for the Bruins, who surpassed 100 points for the third time in four games and showed some outside touch for the first time since their opener. Alford made five of six three-pointers and Hamilton made four of six for UCLA, which finished 12 of 19 from beyond the arc.
“They’re the best offensive team we’ve seen,” Monson said after the Bruins made 64.8% of their shots and collected nearly three times as many assists (27) as turnovers (11).
Thursday vs. Portland, 8 p.m., Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Gym, ESPN2 – The Bruins will play the first of three games in the Wooden Legacy against the unbeaten Pilots (3-0), who have defeated UC Riverside, San Jose State and Lewis & Clark College.
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