While the focal point of the domino effect from Rajon Rondo getting suspended was on Lonzo Ball being inserted into the starting lineup, it’s also meant Lance Stephenson has received more opportunities to play point guard.
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On Wednesday, Stephenson had his best performance yet in what was the Lakers’ first win of the season. Stephenson’s 23 points tied with Devin Booker for a game high.
He added 8 rebounds, 8 assists and two steals in 25 minutes off the bench. “Lance is always great. Lance, with [Rondo] being out, is our backup point guard pretty much,” LeBron James said. “He controlled the game, had great pace and found guys, came in with a defensive mindset in the second quarter and he gave us a huge boost off the bench.”
Although James spearheaded the Lakers taking control of the game in the second quarter, praise for Stephenson was team-wide. “Lance is great for us. Always brings energy and loves to play the game of basketball,” Lonzo Ball said. “You can see it on the court, no matter when he gets in, he’s going to bring it.”
Ball was the beneficiary of one of Stephenson’s assists, as he threw a pass off the backboard for the second-year guard to flush down late in the game.
After championing Stephenson’s defensive acumen and buy-in on offense earlier this week, Lakers head coach Luke Walton touched on more of the same. “What I love about what Lance has been doing, you know he still goes one-on-one and he’s really good at it, we’re not going to take that away from him but he’s doing it more how we want him to do it,” Walton explained.
“He’s sharing the ball. He danced a little bit late in the game but for the most part he’s playing the style we want him to play and he’s competing on defense and that’s why he’s winning so much favor with the staff right now.”