LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Lonzo Ball thrilled before giving the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans a little scare during his Staples Center debut on Monday night.
In his second preseason game as a Laker, Ball landed on Denver Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay‘s foot and suffered a mild left ankle sprain after he blocked a shot from behind and went to the locker room before the end of the first half.
The No. 2 overall pick got his ankle taped and started the second half. He ended up leaving the bench and starting treatment during the fourth quarter, with the Nuggets up by double digits.
Wearing Nike Kobe A.D. shoes instead of the Big Baller Brand ZO2 Prime Remix that he donned in his preseason opener, Ball finished with eight points, four assists, two rebounds, one block and one steal as the Lakers lost their second preseason game 113-107. Ball also had four turnovers. The most important thing for the Lakers is that their prized rookie is fine and didn’t suffer a more serious injury. The Lakers play Denver again Wednesday in Ontario, California.
Before Ball had the scare, he displayed his vertical in a rare moment when he was on the receiving end of an alley-oop. The point guard started a fast break with a give-and-go to Jordan Clarkson, who lobbed it to Ball. The point guard threw down an impressive two-handed dunk with his head nearly at the rim.
Team president Magic Johnson got up and gave a nearby fan a high-five as Staples Center got its first Ball highlight. Ball started his night by scoring on a driving layup while being fouled by Denver’s Paul Millsap to convert a three-point play early in the first quarter.
Ball also hit a step-back 3-pointer, as coach Luke Walton talked to his point guard about being more aggressive in looking for his shot and not being too unselfish.
“That’s part of the messaging in film that [the coaching staff] showed him, just the understanding that we want him to have is to kind of be a little more selfish when he gets to around the rim like that,” Walton said. “It is a great problem to have. … Not that we want him to score 20 points a night but because it will open up everything else for him. All his passing lanes will get bigger with scoring. It will just make the game easier.”
But the first half ended with Ball blocking a shot and mildly spraining his left ankle. Although Ball attempted to block another shot immediately after that, he walked gingerly during stoppage in play before going back to the bench and locker room before the end of the half.
Fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma continued to give the Lakers a spark off the bench, scoring in double figures for the second straight game and finishing with a team-high 23 points. The Lakers still have work to do, though, especially on defense. The Nuggets made 15 of 27 3s (55.6 percent), with shooting guard Gary Harris leading all scorers with 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting and making five of seven 3s.