Lakers players defend Lonzo Ball after Wizards center promises ‘torture’


first_imgEL SEGUNDO — To celebrate his 50th birthday on Monday, LaVar Ball blew out candles on a Big Baller-branded birthday cake.It was a better use for all the hot air that so far in his son’s NBA career has only served to rile up and galvanize Lakers opponents.Here’s the latest from a never-ending saga that could have only happened in the age of social media: The bombastic father of Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball managed to get under the skin of Washington center Marcin Gortat with a guarantee that the Lakers would not lose again this week – including Wednesday’s matchup with the Wizards at Staples Center.In a tweet, Gortat said, “John Wall will torture (Lonzo Ball) for 48 (minutes).” “That’s how I grew up,” he said, “so that’s normal for me.”The Lakers (1-2) have yet to figure out how to defend on the floor, but they have gotten good at rushing in to support Ball.“Of course everyone is going to try to attack him because of who he is and what he does on the basketball floor,” Ingram said. “All we can do is have his back … and make sure he is there mentally so everyone can be there mentally.”Ball has been just as dynamic as promised in his first three professional starts, highlighted by a 29-point, 11-rebound, nine-assist performance Friday in Phoenix. In Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, he finished with 13 assists, one short of the Lakers’ rookie record.On Wednesday, Wall presents a new kind of matchup. Coach Luke Walton called the Wizards’ All-Star “the fastest player … in this league with the ball in his hands, coast to coast.”Ball said Tuesday that the fastest opponent he has ever encountered was Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, whom he faced twice in his one season at UCLA.He said he’s sure Wall will be even faster in person than he’s looked on film.“It’s always like that,” Ball said. “Certain guys you see on tape, you see what you can do then you get on the court and he’s still hard to stop. I know he’s very fast so just got to get back and build a wall (defensively).” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe comment reached the Lakers, who were having none of it. That included the younger Ball, who apparently did not appreciate the Polish center’s rejoinder.“Everyone has social media,” Brandon Ingram said. “Definitely saw it. The competitor in Lonzo, of course, he didn’t take it so well. With his teammates behind him, we didn’t take it so well.”Throughout the first month of his rookie season, Ball has acknowledged the target he has on his back because of the media attention around him and his family. Last week, Patrick Beverley said he told the No. 2 draft choice that “due to all the riff-raff his dad brings, he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him.”After the Lakers’ loss to New Orleans on Sunday, LaVar Ball gave an interview to ESPN, saying, “Washington’s coming in here Wednesday? They better beware, because Lonzo ain’t losing again. Not in the same week.”So far, Lonzo Ball seems unaffected by his dad’s comments.last_img

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