When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Isaiah Thomas as part of their four-player trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the deadline, many wondered what it meant for Lonzo Ball. At the time, he was still on the mend from a sprained MCL.
Ball returned to the court Friday, against the same Dallas Mavericks the Lakers played when he suffered the injury. The game coincided with Thomas making his home debut with the Lakers. Both entered off the bench in the first quarter.
Ball connected on his first shot — a 3-pointer — and he went on to finish with nine, points, seven rebounds and six assists in 17 minutes. “It was good to see Zo knock down some shots,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said.
Meanwhile, Thomas led all bench players with 17 points. He added two rebounds, four assists and two steals. They were key to the Lakers stretching out their lead to 22 points in the second quarter.
“That group really had the ball moving, which was what I was hoping to see with two point guards on the floor,” Walton said.
Walton, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, general manager Rob Pelinka, and Ball and Thomas themselves had maintained the two point guards would not have any trouble playing alongside one another.
Friday’s game provided substance for that confidence. “Just playing together, playing for each other. If you’ve got a play, make it. If not, swing the ball and attack,” Thomas said.
“We’re just two basketball players that know how to make plays. He’s a guy that loves to pass and advance the ball. I’m a guy that likes to make plays and score the ball. I think that adjustment is going to be easy, just playing with another guy that likes to make plays. You figure out where you can take advantage and use your strengths at, and go from there.”
On sharing the court with Thomas, Ball said, “I liked it a lot. Two playmakers on the court, I think we benefit from it. I look forward to playing with him all the time. When you have two point guards on the court, [the ball is] going to move. Either side has a playmaker on it, so that’s a good thing. Plus, he can shoot.”
Brandon Ingram, who was the team’s pseudo point guard in Ball’s absence, noted the differences that make the combination of Ball and Thomas click well. “It’s a different dynamic. You have a passing guard in Lonzo and a dominant scorer in Isaiah,” Ingram said.
“You can spread the floor a lot and when Isaiah attacks, he attracts a lot of people in the paint and he has guys to kick it out to that can knock down shots and other guys on the floor who can get to the basket.”
The Lakers will now need to wait until Monday to see their dynamo backcourt in action, as Ball is sitting out Saturday’s game against the Sacramento Kings out of precaution.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERS NATION FORUM CLUB