Monday, March 05, 2018

Lonzo Ball Had His Biggest Game as a Laker

“He can’t shoot.”  That is probably a valid criticism of Lonzo Ball.  After all, despite averaging in double figures in points (10.4 a game), he’s just shooting 37% from the field, 34% from behind the arc, and an appalling 49% (!) from the free-throw line.  Sure, he had been a positive presence in the roster – contributing well in other aspects, like playmaking (7.1 assists per game), rebounding (7.1 per game), and defense – but the bad shooting is a bummer nonetheless.

However, in the four games since his return from injury, he has been on a hot streak, making 16 of his 28 shots (57%) – 14 of which are three-pointers (64%)!  But it was in the most recent one, which was against the Spurs at their home floor, where the thought that he’s finally emerging has truly gained legitimacy.

In that game, the Lakers were down by 17 at one point in the second half.  But the tenacious Lakers fiercely fought back, stunning the Spurs with an exciting come-from-behind win.  And a significant contributor to that is Lonzo Ball, who finished with 18 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds.

All of his points came from behind the arc, at 60% accuracy.  And three of his six treys came in crunch time.  The first came with 2:46 remaining on the clock, bringing the Lakers within one.  Eighty seconds later, he drained another one for the lead.  And then his last trey came to break a tie with 42.2 seconds left.
His shot from three-point territory now commands respect.
The Lakers are now 28-34.  Getting into the playoffs still looks unlikely.  But this huge win is the kind that can light the imagination of Lakerdom:  “The Lakers could still make the playoffs! With this win over the Spurs, they had won their last five, seven of their last ten, and 17 of their last 24.  In addition, they have all won the last eight games wherein Lonzo Ball is playing.  Yes, it’s very much possible that they go 19-1 the rest of the way for a 47-35 finish – good enough for eighth seed!  Then, NBA Finals!  Then, championship!  Yey!”

Playoffs would be great.  But whether that happens or not, at least, Lonzo’s clutch performance made Lakerdom excited of its attainability, regardless of the odds, at this point in the season.  And excited for more big games he’ll have in a Laker uniform.

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