An offseason full of anticipation finally came to a head Thursday night as Los Angeles Lakers rookie and 2017 No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball made his NBA debut in a 108-92 loss to the LA Clippers at Staples Center.
ESPN reporters were on the ground covering all the top storylines, namely, his footwear, his family's presence and his play on the court.
Lonzo Ball liked the shots he got tonight. He said Patrick Beverley did what he's best at in picking him beyond halfcourt. "It's basketball and he plays 94-feet and that is what he's supposed to do."
Lonzo Ball notes that summer league and preseason is over and the wins and losses count now. And he judges how he does by wins. "We got blown out so I didn't play too well," Ball said. "All I care about is winning."
Lonzo Ball, wearing a Dodgers jersey with "Ball" on the back, gives the Dodgers a shout out and says it doesn't matter who they play. Ball says Dodgers will win.
Lonzo Ball walking off the court after his NBA regular season debut.
LaVar Ball and Lonzo Ball doing what is their routine and having a post-game chat. LaVar Ball says he noticed how the arena was still full in the fourth even as the Lakers were getting blown out and that his son has authored a few stirring comebacks of his own although the Lakers held the rookie out of the fourth with a game to play in Phoenix on Friday.
Quiet first game
The Lonzo Ball era begins with just three points, 1-for-6 shooting, nine rebounds and four assists. Patrick Beverley got up in him as expected, shoving him at one point at halfcourt and later stripping him clean at halfcourt for a layup. But in his first game since he injured his ankle on Oct. 2 in the preseason, Ball hit the glass hard, tried pushing the ball when he could, had one highlight-worthy crossover on Beverley and even blocked Blake Griffin from behind on help defense at one point. What will likely stick with the rookie most is the Lakers getting blown out by the Clippers by 16 in a game that was over in the third. Ball only played 29 minutes with the game out of reach. All Ball wanted in his debut was a win. Ball and the Lakers get right back at it tomorrow in Phoenix.
Lonzo Ball's first basket as a Laker comes with 4:49 left in second on a 3-pointer. But moments later, Ball tried dribbling by Patrick Beverley, who stripped Ball clean near halfcourt for an easy layup. Earlier in the game, Ball crossed-over Beverley, who whiffed while going for the steal.
There are some little things Lonzo Ball does that will make his coaches and teammates love him. At one point, Ball threw a pass ahead of Larry Nance Jr., who caught up to the pass on the way to the paint but it seemed to catch him off guard and he pulled back out and passed it away. Ball immediately raised his arms in a shooting motion seeing that Nance could've driven for a basket or foul if he kept going. Ball and his teammates are still learning one another but you can see how Ball will lead teammates to the basket. On another play, Brandon Ingram missed on a drive and fell hard. Ball followed in to try to rebound but the Clips rebounded and raced down court. Ball landed near Ingram and extended his hand and waited to make sure Ingram got up and was OK. Things like that and the passing will make teammates love playing with Ball more.
Patrick Beverley is already testing Lonzo Ball, picking up the rookie three-quarter court often and shoving the rookie at halfcourt at one point. Ball doesn't have an assist yet in his first eight minutes and has missed both of his shots but he is pushing the ball up and moving t while doing other things like swatting Blake Griffin from behind on help defense and he has four early rebounds.
Lonzo Ball getting introduced for his first NBA regular season game.
Luke Walton said Lonzo Ball tried to feel his way through the game and had a "decent" debut in which the rookie showed flashes of what he can do. "I thought he was good," Walton said. "Lonzo, the way he plays this game it is such a feel thing for him. We really saw some of the things he is capable of doing. He likes to take his time doing things [and feel it out]... overall it was a decent game for him."
Luke Walton said he thought Lonzo Ball kept his composure against Patrick Beverley, who tried to get under Ball's skin and even shoved him at halfcourt at one point.
Scenes from Staples
Lonzo Ball's shoes for his NBA regular season debut.
Lonzo Ball warming up before his Lakers debut.
Lonzo Ball arrived at Staples Center 3 hours and 10 minutes before tonight's season opener.
Lonzo Ball is wearing the Ball No. 2 Dodgers jersey the team gave him when he threw out the first pitch.
There's no Lonzo Ball statue yet but he and the Lakers starters have cardboard cutouts outside of Staples Center.
LaVar Ball certainly draws a crowd
From the All-Lonzo, All-the-Time department, I'm told he had Subway for lunch and needed 23 tickets to the game. Immediately family only.
In case you're wondering LaVar Ball is watching tonight's game up in a suite.
Asked how he slept the night before his first pro game, Lonzo Ball said he slept well and always tries to get a good sleep in so he can have "good dreams."
Luke Walton expects veterans like Patrick Beverley to "come after" Lonzo Ball tonight. Walton says experienced players like going after rookies, especially ones that come with hype and attention like Ball.
Lonzo said he's ready to go tonight. What Magic told Lonzo before his first game tonight... Stay focused... play for the team... play as hard as you can.
Luke on Lonzo's first game: We want him to be aggressive. We're going to let him go out there and have some fun.