Lakers News: Lonzo Ball Blocks Out Shooting Struggles To Deliver In Clutch Situations
Kelvin Kuo-AP Photo

After a prolonged stretch that saw Lonzo Ball turn into an absolute knockdown shooter, the Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard has hit another rough stretch. Over the last three games Ball has made just three of his 21 three-point attempts (14.3 percent) and is shooting just 28.9 percent from the field overall.

Against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, Ball hit just two of his 11 shots from the field and one of seven from 3-point range, scoring just five points in the Lakers’ 112-103 victory.

Despite the struggles, Lonzo insists he is not letting the misses get into his head. “Next shot. They were all open, like they usually are. Every time I’m open, I just shoot it,” he said. “Coaching staff trusts me, so whether I make it or miss it, it’s on to the next shot.”

The Nuggets took it to another level on Tuesday night, however, employing a Hack-a-Lonzo strategy late in the game. Ball is shooting under 50 percent from the free throw line, so the strategy didn’t come as a shock to him.

“I’m not surprised at all. If I’m on the court, teams are probably going to do that. I just have to knock down free throws,” Ball said.

Ball failed to knock down the free throws, but he did hit his lone 3-pointer in a big moment, giving the Lakers their first lead of the fourth quarter. “I just know in crunch time you have to do what you can to help your team win,” he said. “So if I have the ball and I think I can make it, I’m going to shoot it.”

Despite the struggles from the floor, Lakers head coach Luke Walton was still more than satisfied with his point guard’s performance. “Most of his shots were good. There was a couple I felt like he rushed. They weren’t going in, obviously, but he hit a really big three for us,” Walton said after the game.

“That’s one of my favorite things about Lonzo, is he likes the pressure of the game. But he also had eight assists and nine rebounds, and he was a +18 for us. He’s our highest plus-minus, so he impacts the game in so many ways.”

Moving forward, Walton maintains that the most important thing Ball does is help the team win games. “Yes, we want his shot to go in. Yes, we believe in his shot. He’s been shooing lights-out until the last couple games, but all of that is extra,” Walton explained.

“What he does that really helps us win is the way that he plays the game of basketball.”

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