Lonzo Ball helps Lakers rebound
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“It starts the fast break a lot easier,” Ball said. “When I get the ball, don’t have to wait for the big men to give me it. Just get it and go.”Through 17 games, Ball leads the Lakers with 121 total rebounds, and his 7.1 boards per game are second only to Larry Nance Jr.’s 7.5 per contest. Among point guards, only Russell Westbrook (9.1 per game) and Ben Simmons (8.2) average more rebounds.With much hand-wringing over Ball’s ability to score, Sunday’s performance was a reminder of the other ways he can impact a game.“If my shot’s not falling,” he said, “it’s just another category to fill up.”Assistant coach Brian Shaw has worked with the rookie on using rebounding to open up the rest of his game. It’s something that comes naturally to Ball. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “He’s not waiting for the ball to come to him,” Coach Luke Walton said. “He goes and gets it and understands angles and gets off the ground pretty well when he’s doing those things. But most of it is anticipation of where the ball is going.”Walton added: “There’s even sometimes where he knows he won’t be able to get to the rebound so he’ll position himself to be able to strip somebody when they’re coming down with the rebound.”Ball’s triple-double on Sunday was his second of the season, joining Jerry West and Magic Johnson as the only players with more than one in a maiden Lakers campaign. With stats hard to track down from West’s rookie season, Johnson’s seven serve as the gold standard. It’s an achievement that is firmly in Ball’s sights.“Well, hopefully I’ll beat that record,” Ball said. “I’ll just go out there and play and see what happens. If it happens it happens.”FEATURE FILMWalton likes to use his time in front of his team to preach about defense. But on Monday morning he was forced to deviate from the script during the Lakers’ morning film session.“We actually spent more time than I like on offense and talking about the offense,” he said. “But that’s because we had to. They were really good.”The Lakers toppled the Nuggets 127-109 on Sunday, shooting 53 percent and recording a season-high 36 assists.“It was the most complete game we’ve played in a while,” Walton said. “Obviously moving the ball was the best of the season, so far the way we were sharing it and total passes and all those things.”It’s easier to talk about offense when the Lakers’ defense has been so consistently strong. They rank fourth in points allowed per 100 possessions, giving the Lakers the league’s fourth-best defense behind Boston, Portland and Oklahoma City. Golden State ranks fifth.On the whole, Walton said the Lakers (7-10) are more or less on schedule.“This is where I hoped we’d be,” he said. “I thought it would take a little longer for us to do some of the things defensively that we’re doing right now, which is why I think we’ve been able to have some success. I think for being early in the season still that our guys have done a really nice job.” EL SEGUNDO — Before he became the starting point guard for the Lakers, Lonzo Ball anchored the back line of his youth team’s zone defense.“My brothers were smaller than me,” he said Monday, “so I usually got most of the rebounds.”It opened up a world of possibility for Ball, whose career-high 16 rebounds in a triple-double performance on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets were the most by a rookie guard since Steve Francis in 2000.Ball’s rebounding adds an exciting dimension for the Lakers, who have emphasized pushing the ball on offense.