Heading into his first matchup of the season against the Los Angeles Lakers, at Staples Center no less, Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George joined the throng of NBA players to speak glowingly about rookie point guard Lonzo Ball.
After drubbing a Lakers team that was without the No. 2 overall pick from this year’s draft for a sixth consecutive game, George said it was unfair to offer any sort of evaluation on Los Angeles. “Lonzo is really the engine,” George said.
“The way they came out and played, I suspect that that’s the way they’re used to with Lonzo playing the point. Just playing fast, high paced, high energy.”
The Lakers opened the game on a 10-0 run, though found themselves tied with the Thunder by the end of the first quarter and trailing much of the way after that. Carmelo Anthony, George and Russell Westbrook each scored at least 20 points.
Kyle Kuzma felt the team gave up as the Thunder began to pull away, and Lakers head coach Luke Walton wondered if their focus was on the ‘wrong things.’ The loss was the Lakers eighth in a row and 11th in their past 12 games.
The 37-point defeat also put a dent in what had been a silver lining of the Lakers remaining competitive in most of their games against thus far. “It’s what you expect in a young team,” George surmised.
“They’re going to have their bruises, they’re going to have their wounds. The best thing is they have young guys that are potentially going to be big names in this league. They’ve just got to keep working and fine-tuning themselves. They’ve got good, young talent.”
Since making it clear his preference was to be traded to the Lakers, George has done little to squash speculation he will eventually wind up playing for his hometown team. Lakers fans did their part to reciprocate the admiration, showering George with a thunderous ovation during pregame introductions.
That didn’t go unnoticed by the Palmdale, Calif., native, who spoke fondly of playing at Staples Center in front of his parents and close friends.
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