Twice in one evening, Lakers coach Luke Walton found a pretty neat response to LaVar Ball’s goading all the way from Lithuania.
Walton watched his Lakers snap a nine-game losing streak on Sunday night against the admittedly-terrible Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center. “It was the kind of night that the Lakers envisioned when they drafted Lonzo Ball second overall this summer,” the report on the team’s official website read. The Lakers generated 42 points off of fast breaks, Joey Ramirez noted.
The Lakers’ offensive explosion and the return of Lonzo Ball from a shoulder injury coincided happily. Ball put up a solid stat line against the Hawks, with 13 points, ten rebounds and six assists. The Lakers are, statistically and intangibly, a better team with Ball in the lineup. They move the ball faster; their breaks are slicker. “You can see that we’re having a lot of fun when we play like that,” Ball said postgame. “It benefits my game perfectly. I’ve played like that my whole life.”
Ball ended up playing a healthy 30 minutes on his comeback, although Walton pulled him out of the game for a rest in the first quarter. Asked why he had made that decision after the game, Walton had a pithy answer. “His dad was talking s*** so I took him out early,” he told Bill Oram of SoCal News Group. “Just kidding,” Walton added.
Luke Walton was asked about subbing Lonzo out in the first quarter.
“His dad was talking shit so I took him out early.”
— Bill Oram (@billoram) January 8, 2018
Walton’s comments refer to LaVar, Lonzo’s father and human loudspeaker, who claimed in an interview with ESPN on Sunday that the Lakers have given up on their head coach. "You can see they're not playing for Luke no more," Ball told Jeff Goodman from Lithuania, where he is supervising LiAngelo and LaMelo’s careers with Prienu Vytautas. "Nobody wants to play for him. I can see it,” LaVar added. “No high-fives when they come out of the game. People don't know why they're in the game. He's too young. He's too young.”
Walton, who for the record is 37, said he was “fine with” LaVar’s criticism, according to Bleacher Report. As LaVar fulminates in eastern Europe, it does seem like Walton is winning the strange phony war.
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