After months of buildup, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball immediately had his first ‘welcome to the NBA’ moment. A summer trade that sent Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets meant Ball drew hard-nosed point guard Patrick Beverley, now a member of the L.A. Clippers, on opening night.
Beverley took it upon himself to guard Ball the length of the court and get physical with him. Ball made just one basket — a 3-pointer — grabbed nine rebounds and dished out nine assists over 29 minutes in the Lakers’ blowout loss.
Beverley said after the game his goal was to send a message, and he surmised others would do the same, in large part because of LaVar Ball’s relentless public comments. Lonzo has largely avoided such a target, but that changed in Saturday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Second-year guard Jamal Murray seemingly had it out for his counterpart from the outset of the game. Murray torched the Lakers for a game-high 28 points, complete with multiple exchanges with Ball.
He capped off the Nuggets’ 115-100 win with a pair of free throws that came after Julius Randle purposely followed Murray, in response to him taunting Ball by dribbling around his as the clock wound down.
The Lakers didn't take kindly to Jamal Murray dribbling around Lonzo to end the game. pic.twitter.com/bGBPiQy5nq
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 3, 2017
Murry expressed some regret over his actions, via Harrison Wind of BSNDenver.com:
“I may have taken it too far. It was a bad play by me,” Murray said from his locker after the win. “The energy was so great and we had such a great game. Like I said, I may have taken it too far but the energy was great and I felt like we could do anything we wanted.”
“We gotta have some rivalries,” Murray said.
In response to scrutiny, Murray also downplayed the incident on Twitter.
First time got this much hate lol, we just playin ball 🏀
— Jamal Murray (@BeMore27) December 3, 2017
Ball, who is dealing with tightness in both calves, nor the Lakers publicly addressed Murray’s act. Murray was selected seventh overall by the Nuggets in the 2016 Draft.
He scored just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting in the first matchup with the Lakers this season, a game that saw Ball record his second career triple-double. The Lakers and Nuggets don’t meet again until March 9.
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