Lonzo Ball’s inconsistent fourth-quarter role not an issue in Lakers’ locker room

first_imgWalton has already had to defend his handling of Ball in light of criticism from LaVar Ball, who has said on multiple occasions that his son would find a rhythm and lead the Lakers to more wins if he played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter.A certain irony can be found in the chasm between how LaVar Ball wants Walton to coach his son and how he is actually doing it. Beyond LaVar, Lonzo Ball might have no greater advocate than his head coach.On Friday, Walton said he believes Ball, who is shooting 32.1 percent from the field and is averaging 8.6 points per game, is capable of become a top scorer in the NBA – something many have begun to doubt based on early returns.Walton pointed to Ball’s unique skills in transition and how, on his best nights, he is able to get to the rim.“He’s got such a good knack for getting those shots,” Walton said. “You add that with the ability that I think he’s going to be a fine NBA 3-point shooter as well. It makes for the ability to be a very good scorer.“I think he’ll always want to pass first, which will also lead to him having scoring opportunities because defenders are going to be more worried about guarding their own man.”Walton said he has not seen Ball suffer any ill effects from the fluctuating minutes, which is consistent with the image of the rookie as unperturbed by any of the twaddle surrounding him.“He was on the bench supporting his teammates,” Walton said. “He was in the locker room after the game laughing with the guys. I know he wants to be on the court, and he’s really good at finishing games. He proved that in (Thursday’s win in) Philly.“But part of being on a team is being happy for your teammates when they’re having success.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error NEW YORK — If anyone other than a certain parent objects to Lonzo Ball’s minutes during the fourth quarter of Lakers games, they aren’t saying it.“That’s what the team is for,” Lonzo Ball said after the Lakers pulled away from the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday to win 110-99 while Ball and starting center Brook Lopez watched from the bench in the final period.The Lakers outscored Charlotte 34-24, and sixth man Jordan Clarkson capably handled point guard responsibilities while scoring 14 of his team-high 22 points.“When JC came in, he was cookin’ tonight,” Ball said following the win. “We rolled with him, and I’m glad we did.”center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe exclusion of Ball from fourth-quarter activities is bound to draw attention, however. Coach Luke Walton, who routinely defends his point guard’s development, bristled at another question about leaving Ball on the bench, a lineup decision he has made on several other occasions this season.“Lots of people don’t play in the fourth,” Walton said. “And … reporters only point out that Lonzo doesn’t play.”Walton pointed to Lopez, who was kept out in the fourth in Charlotte after scoring 13 points through three quarters, as well as starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was on the floor late Saturday but on other nights has been on the bench in crunch time.Those two players account for $40 million in salary. Walton is right, their occasional absences are not in line with preseason expectations. However, they do not have cheerleaders with a national platform clamoring for a larger fourth-quarter role, as Ball does in the form of his father LaVar.“There’s lots of starters who aren’t playing in the fourth,” Walton said. “Depending on how the group (on the floor) goes. We’ve got a lot of players who are very similar in what they can do, as far as where they’re at in their careers, and if someone’s going we’re going to let them go.”last_img

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