Although Lonzo Ball was still working himself into form since undergoing offseason knee surgery, he looked every bit the part of the impactful point guard the Los Angeles Lakers believe him to be, when pressed into starting duty as Rajon Rondo served a three-game suspension.
Ball remained a starter when Rondo returned but put forth consecutive subpar efforts. That led to Ball explaining he’s aware of a need to be more engaged on a consistent basis. Ball believed he could accomplish as much by allowing activity on defense to fuel other areas of his game.
Ball then went out and had another strong performance against the Dallas Mavericks, regressed against the Portland Trail Blazers, and rebounded in some regard though the Lakers were lethargic from tipoff in a loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Three days removed from what was their worst first-quarter deficit in the shot clock era, the Lakers had improved energy against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Particularly Ball, who was jumping into passing lanes and helping move the ball on offense.
“I just tried to set the tone,” he said after the Lakers’ 114-110 win. “When we played Toronto, everybody was lax and they were getting whatever they wanted. That starts with me. I’m at the top pretty much every time, so whatever I can do to get the defense and offense going, I try to do.
“We always want to get off to a good start. That’s our job as starters and we know we have a great second unit to pick us up.”
Ball finished with three points behind splitting a pair of free throws and making just one field goal on six attempts — throwing down a dunk on a lob pass from Brandon Ingram out of a timeout in the third quarter. However, he had 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.