Fellow rookie Jayson Tatum has been lighting it up in the Summer League, but that wasn't going to stop Lonzo Ball this time. He then sent Ball a text message "to keep leading the guys and making the right plays". In front of the sold out crowd in Vegas of nearly 18,000 fans, this game lived up to the hype.
Tatum, the Celtics' number 3 pick in this year's draft, showed once again that he is wise beyond his years. He also recorded four turnovers, along with a steal and a block.
Ball grabbed 11 rebounds, logged eight assists and inspired his teammates to play with the kind of ball movement that Lakers coach Luke Walton had preached during his first season.
Yet, Magic credits LaVar for his positive thinking, even calling that his son would be drafted by the Lakers months before it happened. The Thomas & Mack Center at University of Nevada Las Vegas was sold out on back-to-back nights for Ball's debut-partly because of the Lakers' large fan base, but mostly from Ball's boasting.
The 27th pick piled up 31 points and drained five triples along the way.
Although he looked more settled on Saturday than he did one day earlier, Ball struggled from the field again, shooting just 5-13 overall and 1-5 on threes.
"Until we win, I'm not gonna be happy", he said, per Joey Ramirez of NBA.com. "I think today was the first time he was really being aggressive and playing like he played in college".
"It's better for him to start at the bottom than have all this success at the top and everybody expect it the whole season".
In a piece published Friday, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne detailed the Lakers' research on Ball before drafting him. Ball was 1 for 11 from 3-point range, including a bad miss from well beyond the line the kind of daring pull-up the Ball family is known for with 1:16 to play in regulation.
Ojeleye scored 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting, including a 5-for-9 showing from behind the arc, to easily surpass his average of six points per game in Utah.
Fortunately for the Lakers, Kuzma had no problem knocking down his shots. It didn't appear that he let his offensive troubles impact him on the other end of the court.