Lonzo Ball made himself clear on Saturday: Triple-doubles don’t mean anything to him if they come in losses.
“I really don’t care,” he said after falling to Milwaukee. “We took a loss, so it really doesn’t mean nothing.”
While that is an ideal mentality for the 20-year-old key piece to the Lakers’ future, that doesn’t mean that his stat-stuffing performance was irrelevant.
On the contrary, Ball’s 19 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds, four blocks and three steals signaled a player who can affect every area of the game — which obviously improves the team’s potential for future wins.
“The triple-double is going to be the norm for him,” said Bucks coach Jason Kidd, who has the third-most triple-doubles in NBA history (107). “He’s going to fill up stat sheets. We just need to give him time.”
Here are the most telling moments from the youngest triple-double in NBA history.
This was one of the most encouraging shooting performances of Ball’s young career, and it began with a splash from deep.
Here, Milwaukee dares Ball — who entered the game hitting just 22.0 percent on 3’s — to shoot by going under the screen in pick-and-roll.
Lonzo correctly decides to pull up from deep and makes them pay with the triple.
“My confidence is going to stay the same all year,” Ball said. “I’ve been shooting my whole life, so I’m not gonna stop now.”
Lonzo also spotted up for two more treys, giving him a 3-of-5 clip from deep for a team that can certainly use more shooting. More nights like this would be crucial for the Lakers’ spacing and help open up their half-court offense.
Inside of the arc, Ball shot 4-of-7 with a couple driving layups, a floater and this nice cut off the ball.
Lonzo gets a screen from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and then uses Eric Bledsoe’s aggressiveness against him. Bledsoe tries to deny him the ball, so he cuts to the hoop, gets a good pass from Brook Lopez and finishes through contact for the and-1.
This is the pass that Lakers fans have already come to expect from their rookie point guard. Lonzo gets the ball from behind the opponent’s free throw line and notices that Brandon Ingram has a path to the basket on the other end of the court.
He nonchalantly whips the ball 65 feet down the floor to Ingram, as his patented outlet pass leads to an easy fast-break dunk.
Ball also showed excellent composure in pick-and-rolls against the Bucks, particularly during a seven-assist second quarter that gave him a double-double before halftime.
Milwaukee is one of the league’s most aggressive teams in guarding pick-and-rolls, as it likes to double-team ball handlers with its long-armed defenders. Rather than being overwhelmed, Ball made split-second decisions and found a rolling Julius Randle three times.
“They were blitzing a lot, so that makes the roll pretty much open if you pass it quick enough,” Ball said.
Then there is this well-designed play, which starts with Kyle Kuzma setting a flare screen for ball, causing the defense to switch. Bledsoe, a point guard new to the Bucks, gets confused with the action, and Kuzma uses another screen from Randle to cut to the rim.
Ball has a tight window to get it to Kuzma, but he does and it’s a barely contested layup.
Hitting the glass may not be the most glamorous aspect of Ball’s game, but it is an area that he has made an immediate impact.
He ranks third among point guards in rebounds this season with 6.8 per game, which has allowed him to jump start the Lakers’ fast-break attack.
In the second quarter, he grabs the board and immediately takes off, finding Jordan Clarkson around mid-court. This quick push allows JC to take advantage of Milwaukee’s unsettled defense, and the result is a basket five seconds into the shot clock.
Something similar happens in the third. It’s an atypical rebound caused by Brandon Ingram’s excellent defensive play, as he rotates over to help Lopez on a mismatch and is still able to return to the restricted area to swat 7-foot-1 Thon Maker.
The block goes right to Ball, who possess it for maybe a millisecond before flipping it to Ingram in transition. This quick decision has Ingram striding to the hoop against a scrambling defense that is forced to foul him, resulting in free throws.
Four blocks, three steals
Finally, these stats didn’t contribute to the triple-double, but reflect how well Ball has competed defensively all season long.
Ball also had three deflections and two loose balls recovered, but his most eye-popping plays came on a pair of fourth-quarter rejections.
With all that he showed when it came to scoring, passing and rebounding, it’s gravy to have a 6-foot-6 point guard who is locked in defensively and can pack opponents like this.