Propelled by LeBron James’ triple-double, the Los Angeles Lakers handed the Denver Nuggets their first loss of the 2018-19 NBA season on Thursday at Staples Center.
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With Rajon Rondo wrapping up a three-game suspension, second-year point guard Lonzo Ball was tabbed with his third consecutive start. He again put forth an impressive stat line, producing a quad five with 12 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 5 steals in 33 minutes of action.
Ball additionally was tasked with guarding Nuggets guard Jamal Murray and did so aggressively, often picking him up full court.
Ball revealed afterward that pressuring the opposing defense is a major focus for him this season, downplaying the notion that he did so specifically with Murray because of their past history.
“I play everybody the same,” Ball said. “I’m supposed to be picking up (full court) this year, so that’s what I’m trying to do. The coaching staff as a whole, they think I can do it, and I think I can do it. Just trying to disrupt the other team’s offense as much as I can.”
While Murray registered 22 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes on the court, Ball proved a difficult matchup for him. He shot 8-of-17 from the field and sunk only one of his five attempts behind the arc.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton praised Ball for his game-changing coverage on Murray in the second quarter that turned around momentum against the Nuggets.
With Rondo set to return for Saturday’s contest against the San Antonio Spurs, it remains to be seen who the Lakers will start at point guard. Whether it be the veteran or Ball, Los Angeles has two quality options to choose from going forward.