Offense? In bunches! Defense? Well, not so much. After a very forgettable opening season game the Lakers followed it up with a shootout in Phoenix that led to a 132-130 Win. In a matchup of two young teams, the Lakers prevailed despite a late comeback from the Suns.
Unlike the previous game, which we shall do our best to forget, this game was fun! Brandon Ingram scored a career-high, Lonzo had one of the best games a 19-year-old has ever had, and Corey Brewer became Devin Booker’s dad. The game was a fun one so here are my thoughts.
Turns out Lonzo is not a bust!
After a solid, but lackluster season opener in which he only had three points, four assists, and nine rebounds, Lonzo Ball responded in a big way. He came out tonight and scored 29 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out nine assists.
Now I’m not an expert, not yet anyway, but those seem to be really good numbers for a 19-year-old rookie in just his second game of his career. In fact, he’s the only 19-year-old to ever put up a line of 29-9-11
By a full 327 days, Lonzo Ball is the youngest ever to 29 points, 11 Rebs, 9 assists in a game.
— #Him™ with the #s 🇵🇷 (@AmericanNumbers) October 21, 2017
Lonzo was making brilliant passes from all over the court and scored from all over the court. He made 4-9 three’s and a good portion of his other points came at the rim or close to it. He navigated the P&R beautifully and torched Suns’ players when they went under the screen every time.
This won’t be the norm for Lonzo, but if he continues to exploit bad P&R defenses like this, then I would not be surprised if he had similar performances at least a couple times this year (Looking at you, Denver).
Ingram and Kuzma balled out
Before Ball caught fire in the second half, Brandon Ingram was having the best game of any player on the court, and probably the best game of his career. While he was cold in the fourth quarter, he ended up scoring a career-high 24 points on 9-14 shooting and was also 3-4 from beyond the arc. His shot looked smooth and looked less like a catapult than it has from previous games. He operated well from the P&R and took mostly good shots that came about from the offensive scheme instead of isolation plays. My only gripe was that he was not that good as a secondary creator, but that should come in time. He had a terrific game that he should hopefully build on for this season. Forget about the season opener. This is the Ingram that we want.
Ingram was not the only 6’9″ youngster to ball out. Kyle Kuzma had himself a solid game in which he lived up to the preseason hype. He played off the bench, but he played really well when he was on the court. He had 15 points, two assists, and three rebounds in 28 minutes of play, and he showed off plenty of moves that made fans swoon in the preseason. How he goes from here is a mystery, but it will be interesting to see if he starts sometime this season.
What is up with Julius Randle?
After Luke Walton made it apparent that Larry Nance, Jr. would start, Randle has not been pleased and for good reason. He worked himself into incredible shape this offseason, played his butt off in the preseason, and was promptly benched for who many think is an inferior player.
Then he only plays 17 minutes in the season opener and that is followed up with only 12 minutes of game time against the Suns. It’s easy to see why he’s mad – I would be too – but at the same time, it’s clear that he’s not giving close to 100 percent. He’s in a tough situation in which his good play was met with a benching, but to start again he needs to play well. It’s too late to reverse the decision so his best bet at starting again and playing more is to work his butt off. His previous hard work was not met with reward, but not working hard will only be met with more hardships. I’m not sure how this ends up but it will be an interesting story to follow as the season goes on.