NBA Teams
Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer 20d

Lonzo Ball going from one extreme to the next as he settles into rookie season

NBA, Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES -- Lonzo Ball went from being too passive in Portland on Thursday to being super aggressive against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday almost as fast as he can start a fast break after grabbing a rebound.

In a span of 24 hours, Ball went from taking only two shots in 28 minutes in a loss at Portland to playing as aggressively as he has all season -- aside from his 29-point outing in Phoenix in the second game of the season when he was feeling it offensively. It was as if he went from zero to 60 on offense.

Playing so assertively that he forced several of his shots, Ball finished with six points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals with no turnovers in a 124-112 win over the Nets at Staples Center.

Ball shot 3-for-15 from the field, with the point guard vigorously taking on defenders in the paint. But the Lakers will take this version of Ball over the one who went scoreless for the first time in his pro and college career in a loss at Portland.

"I don't think he can ever be too aggressive, honestly," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "I think there is a couple that he shot that probably the passes were available for him. But I think that is great for him. Get into that paint, learn at this level what it takes to take on that contact and finish and make those reads going downhill. Again, he had our highest plus-minus, he was aggressive getting downhill all game long and he had zero turnovers. I hope he does that next game, too.

"Whether he makes or misses shots, right now I don't care. He will figure that out. He is that good of a player. That is how we want him -- envision him playing with that type of tempo and putting that type of pressure on team's defenses."

With his predecessor D'Angelo Russell playing for the Nets and making his big return to Los Angeles, Ball made it very clear what his intentions were from the tip. He immediately fired an air-ball 3-pointer to start the game. Then he took a rebound and three seconds later drove the lane and made a driving floater in traffic.

He would then miss two more driving shots in the paint, taking four in three minutes to double the total he took in 28 minutes in Portland.

"Very passive," Ball said of how he described what he saw on his tape from the loss to the Blazers. "There are a lot of gaps that I can get into and get to the basket a majority of the time. Unfortunately, shots didn't go down, but they were all right there."

Defensively, Ball continues to play solidly, and he made life difficult for Russell at times when the two were matched up. Russell, a former Laker, scored 17 points but was just 8-for-24 shooting from the field, including 1-for-8 from 3.

While Russell did his usual thing, Ball is clearly still trying to feel his way and figure things out offensively nine games into his career. Ball is trying to adjust to how defenses are playing him while shooting 32-for-104 (30.7 percent), including 10-for-39 (25.6 percent) from 3-point range.

Walton has said the coaching staff will not consider altering Ball's unorthodox shooting technique because the rookie shot 41.2 percent from 3 at UCLA last season. Walton also says Ball makes a lot of his perimeter shots in practice and that he just needs to keep shooting and adjusting to the NBA 3-point range.

Ball says he knows that shooting more will keep defenses more honest and hopefully prevent them from playing the passing lanes. Some defenses have sagged off Ball on the perimeter, playing under screens and trying to take the pass away.

Ball has said that he likes the shots he's getting and will keep taking them.

"It keeps the defense guessing," Ball said. "Everybody is playing me for the pass so if I can get into the lanes, I have to take advantage of that."

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