With 22.8 seconds left in the game Saturday night, Lonzo Ball dunked the ball and reached a summer league milestone.
Ball scored 11 points with 11 rebounds and 11 assists in his second game in a Lakers uniform, an 86-81 loss to the Boston Celtics. He zipped passes around to his teammates — wraparound passes, no-look passes. And each time he did, the Lakers-centric crowd cheered — often louder for the pass than for the finish.
“It slowed down a lot,” Ball said. “Like I said, it’s only our second game so things are starting to come, but it’s a lot better than yesterday.”
Said Lakers summer league coach Jud Buechler: “He did that in college in games where he didn’t score in double figures but completely dominated the game with his rebounding, his defense and his passing. So I’m not surprised that even though he didn’t have a big scoring night, his fingerprints were all over the stat sheet.”
The Thomas & Mack Center sold out Saturday, with fans packing the arena to see Ball, some in his Lakers jersey, some in his UCLA jersey.
Ball entered the game in need of a bounce-back, and conscious of it. He made only two of 15 shots Friday night against the Clippers, including one of 11 three-point attempts.
At 1 p.m. on Saturday, Ball visited a local high school gym to get some shots up.
“I felt like I had to fix some things,” said Ball, who didn’t have a triple-double in his one season at UCLA.
Saturday night, his shooting was better, but he still made only five of 13 shots. Everything else, though, looked just like the Lonzo Ball that excited the Lakers so much in the pre-draft process.
“I think he has a little bit more bounce in his step tonight,” said Lakers coach Luke Walton, who watched from the sidelines. “He does such a great job of facilitating and constantly pushing the ball and hitting the open guy, the more his teammates get used to playing with him, the better looks we’ll get, the more fastbreaking we’ll get.”
What Walton also liked was that Ball led by example for his teammates. Seeing Ball make the extra pass prompted other players to do the same thing.
“It’s definitely contagious,” Ball said. “My teammates are telling me I’m a little too unselfish. I got a lot of layups and dunks I could have. But yeah, when I’m making the extra pass everybody else is too.”
His teammates are also starting to learn that playing with Ball means always being alert.
“I know it is always coming,” said Lakers guard David Nwaba, who scored 13 points Saturday. “I got to look up before I get hit with the ball. He is a great passer and I know I got to be ready at all times.”
Another first-round pick, Kyle Kuzma, was the Lakers’ leading scorer against the Celtics, getting 31 points in 33 minutes on 12-for-26 shooting.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli