Lakers struggle in their first few appearances leaving playoff potential questionable.
By Harrison McQuinn, Sports Editor
The talent in the NBA is more imbalanced than ever, placing more tension on the rookie roster of Los Angeles.
The Lakers finished 14th in the west last year with a record of 26–56. Not much has changed for the young team aside the acquisition of veteran center Brook Lopez, rookie Kyle Kuzma, and 2nd-overall pick Lonzo Ball.
“Put this loss on me,” Ball said of Saturday’s game against the Jazz. “We were coming back. Two dumb plays by me, and they got up.”
The UCLA guard’s regular season debut paralleled his preseason opener in which he shot 2-9 and surrendered three turnovers. The Lakers (2-4) lost to hometown rivals Clippers (4-1) 92-108 in an anticlimactic opener.
Ball finished with only 3 points in 29 minutes, but managed nine rebounds. Lopez lead the team in scoring with 20 points.
L.A. may be kicking themselves over trading D’Angelo Russell, a previous 2nd-overall pick, who scored 30 points in his first game with Brooklyn; however, the guard only averaged a mediocre 15.6 PPG as a Laker in the 2016-2017 season.
A 132-130 win over Phoenix (2-4) regenerated some hope for L.A. as well as Ball’s potential. The 19-year-old was one assist away from his first triple double, which would have made him the youngest player to do so.
Fellow rookies Kuzma and Julius Randle put up 15 points and 9 points respectively, but Randle appeared disengaged on Friday likely due to his lack of minutes.
The victory does not indicate much, having been against a weak Phoenix that just lost to Portland by 48 points.
The team went on to face New Orleans (3-3) on Sunday. L.A. fell to the Pelicans 119-112, despite a 22 point rally in the fourth quarter.
Ball shot 3 for 18 the entire night and failed to execute tough passes resulting in 5 turnovers.
Although, Sunday was the second game in which Ball nearly achieved a triple double. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 20 points, and Brandon Ingram continued to attack the post.
The following three games Ball scored 6, 5, and 9 points respectively all with at least 30 minutes play time.