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Luke Walton: Lonzo Ball had a good learning experience in first game

PHOENIX -- Luke Walton came to Lonzo Ball's defense on Friday, saying that the Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard did not play as poorly in his debut as some might've said.

"I think Lonzo's getting a bad [rap] for getting destroyed his first game," Walton said before the Lakers' game against the Phoenix Suns. "Personally, I thought he could have had a double-double with rebounds and assists, [but] we didn't make any shots. He'll figure out when to get his shots. I thought he was fine last night. It's a good learning experience for everybody."

Ball missed five of six shots and finished with three points, nine rebounds and four assists in a 108-92 loss to the LA Clippers Thursday night.

Patrick Beverley hounded the rookie, at one point giving him a body check and sending Ball to the floor at halfcourt.

"I just had to set the tone," Beverley said. "I told him after the game, due to all the riffraff that his dad brings that he is going to get a lot of people coming at him. He has to be ready for that, and I let him know after the game. But what a better way to start than 94 feet guarding him."

Ball missed a floater and another shot near the rim, and if he had made those two shots, his debut could have looked a lot different.

"Zo did a good job of not letting [Beverley] bother him too much as far as getting him out of trying to run the offense or trying to run and pass and turn it into a one-on-one showdown," Walton said. "I thought Zo for being that young handled himself nicely."

Ball is in a stretch of six games in which he will face Beverley, Phoenix's Eric Bledsoe, New Orleans' Jrue Holiday, Washington's John Wall, Toronto's Kyle Lowry and Utah's Ricky Rubio.

"He naturally wants to throw the ball ahead," Walton said of Ball not getting into too many one-on-one's against opposing point guards. "He wants to get off it when other people are open. He's really good at that pick-and-roll game. If we're being honest, if we just wanted our best shot every time down, we'd probably just run 100 pick-and-rolls with Lonzo.

"But that's not what we feel is best for our team. We want to get him in pick-and-rolls but after we make the defense move side to side. We want to get everyone touching the ball and getting into a rhythm so it won't be a lot of one-on-one matchups all game long like that."