The Los Angeles Lakers officially have one game in the books and an ugly loss to the Los Angeles Clippers 108-92 to start the 2017-18 season.
All of the hype that followed the Los Angeles Lakers and Lonzo Ball all summer finally came to a head on their opening night. The game did not go as well as fans had hoped or probably as well as the Lakers thought it would. Lonzo Ball was smothered the entire night and was barely able to get off a shot. DeAndre Jordan made Brook Lopez look irrelevant when he is a promising big man and veteran to the Lakers.
Lonzo Ball finished the night with just 3 points in 29 minutes played on 1-of-6 shooting, his only make coming from a 3-pointer.
Lob City looks to be remaining quite intact even with the departure of Chris Paul during the offseason. The Clippers appeared prepared and in no mood for the antics of a young Lakers team to show them up for the first game of the season. They were heavy in attempting 3-pointers as a team going 12-for-33 hitting 36.4 percent of their attempts, the Lakers hit just 4-of-16 from beyond the arc.
1. Lonzo Ball struggled, but it would be utterly ridiculous to draw definitive conclusions about what Ball’s career will be based on his first game. He struggled Thursday night against one of the best defensive players in the NBA. Patrick Beverley worked to get in his head, to pester him throughout the game, and he got physical with him, once even shoving him on the court. Ball took only six shots and made just one, finishing with just the points from that three-pointer. “We got blown out, so I didn’t play too well,” Ball said. He was asked if he wished he was more aggressive and he said he did. “My job is to move the offense, and I felt like it was going good, the shots just weren’t falling.” NBA defenses will dare a rookie point guard to shoot, especially if they know that isn’t that player’s strength. The Clippers did that at times last night, and that’s something Ball will have to adjust to as he develops in his career.
2. Julius Randle was not pleased. Randle slipped out of the locker room before most of the reporters covering the game could get back in there after Walton’s press conference. He came off the bench after starting in 73 of 74 games he played last season. And while he sat there, he did not look happy. When Randle finally entered the game with 3:17 left in the third quarter, Walton didn’t like what he saw and said Randle was frustrated. “He wasn’t ready to go, like he has been for the past week, so I pulled him out to tell him about it,” Walton said. “I know he wasn’t happy with me but that’s my job. It’s an adjustment, but it’s something you have to do when you’re coming off the bench, when you get put in the game you have to be ready to go that moment. It’s not easy, but he can do it and he’ll be fine. But I think it was, like a lot of tonight, a learning experience.”
3. At one point the Clippers led by 30 points. Naturally, most of the Lakers’ plus/minus ratings were negative. Only two Lakers finished with non-negative ratings: Corey Brewer and Larry Nance Jr. Nance got the start over Randle and immediately made an impact. I’d say he seems energized by the renewed confidence shown in him, but Nance has always been a high-energy player for the Lakers. He finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, and scored the first points of this Lakers season.
4. Brandon Ingram was not off to the best start in this season debut as the backcourt definitely failed to meet expectations in a big way on offense. Ingram finished the night with 12 points on 30 minutes of playing time shooting an awful 3-for-15 while grabbing five rebounds and four assists.
5. Fan favorite Kyle Kuzma saw some decent time and came away with good results scoring eight points on 4-for-8 shooting but went 0-for-2 from beyond the arc. His defense was not the best as he came away with a -17 plus/minus but managed to grab himself two steals.
6. Andrew Bogut played only 11 minutes but had a couple monster blocks during that time. His ability as a rim protector is a big part of why he is here. He’d been showing that in practice all week, and quickly showed it in a game.