Lakers blow 17-point lead as Raptors spoil Ball's birthday game

LOS ANGELES -- Lonzo Ball wanted to be serenaded by his rookie teammates to Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday" and get a win over DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors for his 20th birthday.

He barely got the first wish and was denied the second, as Toronto overcame a 17-point deficit to beat the Lakers 101-92 on Friday.

With the Lakers playing again Saturday, head coach Luke Walton benched Ball and most of his starters with 3:42 remaining and the Lakers down 91-83. Ball gets Ricky Rubio at the Utah Jazz next.

BALLIN': Ball did what looks like is quickly becoming the norm for the rookie -- he filled up the box score in rebounds and assists. Going into the game, Ball was averaging nine assists and nine rebounds. He had seven rebounds, six assists and five points in 31 minutes. He also had a nice steal and a wrap-around pass around a defender at half court to a streakingLarry Nance Jr.for a dunk. He later connected on an alley-oop to Nance.

NOT BALLIN': The Lakers led the Raptors by 17 with 3:56 left in the first half. By 8:05 left in the third quarter, the Raptors had the lead following a DeRozan fadeaway to cap a 27-9 run. During that run, the Lakers had as many turnovers (eight) as shot attempts. Ball had three turnovers alone in the final 3:13 of the second quarter to help the Raptors get back in the game. Against John Wall and the Washington Wizards in the previous win, Ball was terrific in this department with only one turnover against an elite point guard.

The Lakers will live with his turnovers, since they want their point guard to learn what he can, and can't, get away with. On one particular play, Ball fired one pass too hard and too low for Corey Brewer to handle in what otherwise could have been a nice lob toward the rim.

And Ball's long-distance shot continues to be off. Ball made his first 3-pointer in three games but is 1-for-14 from beyond the arc during that stretch.

With 3:42 left, Walton removed starters, including Ball. Trailing 91-83, Walton was looking for a desperation, last-gasp run and was unhappy with the starting lineup's transition defense, but Toronto held on. To be fair to the rookie, the Lakers' starters outside ofBrook Lopezstruggled with their offense. Lopez was the only starter to finish in double figures with 13 points.


THE REBUILD: In their fifth game of the season, the Lakers are still very much feeling out their roles, rotations and what each can do. On this night, the Lakers made it clear they were going to go to Lopezearly. After taking eight shots in each of his previous two games, Lopez shot seven times in the first quarter alone. The plan got Lopez going early, as he had 11 points in the first half before he cooled off and didn't get as many consistent touches.

After having 19 and 10 against Washington, Brandon Ingram was a nonfactor for most of this game, with nine points and two rebounds. The Lakers just didn't have enough offense down the stretch when Toronto took over the game. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also struggled offensively with only two points to go with seven rebounds.

Rookie Kyle Kuzma posted the first double-double of his career with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
BIG BALLER OF THE NIGHT: Julius Randle had another strong game and appears to be getting comfortable with his new role off the bench. Playing angry and inspired, Randle gave the Lakers energy and hustle on both ends with 18 points.

THE MATCHUP: Three-time All-Star Kyle Lowry got off to a slow start but picked it up big time in the second half before finishing with a triple-double -- 11 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Ball was seen at times running back and forth as Lowry ran off screens and did his usual thing, hitting 3s or driving and kicking. This is the first time in Ball's career that an opposing starting point guard went for a triple-double.

QUOTE-A-BALL: "I think he's a throwback. He's a throwback to Jason Kidd. He reminds me of a young Jason Kidd without the 3-ball, [but] Jason started the league without [that shot]. His size, his demeanor, he has a calming effect on his teammates. He doesn't get rattled. I think the future is going to be really, really bright for the young guy. Everybody talks about his shot, but his shot is going to come. He's going to be a really good player in our league." -- Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, who coached Kidd as an assistant in Dallas.

THE FINAL SAY: Ball flirted with triple-double numbers again, but his impact on this game was not what it has been in others.

The rookie has to keep taking -- and has to start making -- the perimeter shots opposing defenses are giving him. Until he can make 3s consistently, the Lakers will continue to go through roller-coaster stretches like they did Friday night when they went up 17 only to fall behind by double-digits in the fourth.

Related Video
Raptors spoil Ball's 20th birthday
Raptors spoil Ball's 20th birthday
Lonzo Ball scores five points as Kyle Lowry records a triple-double and DeMar DeRozan's game-high 24 top the Lakers.
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