Ball Bro’s Make Professional Debut

Ball Bros Make Professional Debut

LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball made their professional debuts earlier today for Vytautas in the Big Baller Brand Challenge in Prienai, Lithuania. The BBB Challenge is a series of 5 “friendly” games against other Lithuanian teams that range in the competitive level. Today’s game was against Zalgiris-2, the best team in Lithuania’s developmental team. Most of the team’s players are under 18 years of age.

The first game of the BBB Challenge was a spectacle, to say the least. The BBB logo was everywhere, including the center of the court and on the referee’s uniforms. The game was streamed on Facebook Live and announced by Rytis Kazlauskas, (play by play) and Rytis Vysniauskas, (analyst). The tandem was absolutely hilarious.  Considering they were announcing the game in a second language, Rytis & Rytis were actually pretty impressive. However, at times Kazlauskas struggled with which Ball bro was on the court.

Some viewers may have thought that was annoying at times, but come on…it’s the Ball family. I thought it just added to the spectacle.

LiAngelo’s Performance

Gelo was announced in the starting-five for Vytautas and actually played a pretty decent game. He finished with a team-leading 19 points, with a handful of rebounds and a few steals to go with it. There were times when Gelo looked out of place on the offensive end of the floor. He missed some easy scoring opportunities. That being said, he looked completely in control on the defensive side. At times he had to play against physically superior players and held his own. The most impressive thing from Gelo’s performance is that it genuinely looked as if he was giving it all the duration of the game and got into a better flow, offensively, as the game progressed.

LaMelo’s Performance

Melo’s game is the epitome of his father’s personality but on a basketball court. It’s flashy, entertaining, but down-right ridiculous at times. He came off the bench and immediately bricked an NBA range three. There were times when he showed flashes of greatness and times where he showed that he was a 16-year old kid. Melo finished the game with 10 points and a handful of both assists and steals. He was at his best when he used his quickness, especially on fast-breaks, driving to the basket, or going for steals. There were a few instances on defense, however, where he sold out too hard for a steal. He finished the first half with 3 fouls and there were a few instances when the opposing guards blew by him. I still think that LaMelo could be the most talented out of the three Ball brothers, but he needs to mature both on and off the court for that to happen.

Overview & Looking Forward

This wasn’t NBA-level basketball, but it was really entertaining. There was a good amount of sloppy play at times, but there were also a few ballers on the court. The Ball brothers had a couple talented stretch-fours on their Vytautas squad and the coach’s son, Edvinas Seskus looked to be the clear leader. On the opposing Zalgiris-2 side, PG Rokas Jokubaitis was the game’s leading scorer with 31. He could legitimately be a future NBA prospect with the right exposure. He’ll surely get that playing against the Ball’s.

There are four more of these BBB Challenge games, which is where I assume the Ball brothers will get the majority of their playing time. If you didn’t get the chance to check today’s game out, I would certainly tune-in in the future. No matter the NBA future of the younger Ball brothers, the family certainly knows how to put on a show.

Lakers Ball Out Behind Lonzo, Pull Out OT Win

Lonzo Ball meets John Wall

The Lead-Up

The Big Baller sideshow was back at it again Sunday. After a Lakers loss to the Pelicans, LaVar Ball was quoted saying, “[Washington] better beware cause Lonzo ain’t losing again. Not in the same week!” Another great sound byte to add to the Lavar Ball collection and another sound byte to add to the ammunition of Lonzo’s opponents. This time, John Wall and the Wizards decided to put Big Baller in their crosshairs and clap back. The battle started before the Wizards even got to LA. On Twitter, Marcin Gortat began stirring the pot with this tweet:

The next day, Wall spoke with the Washington Post’s Candance Bruckner on the subject:

“Nah, no mercy,” Wall responded when asked if he would show leniency to the 19-year-old rookie point guard despite his braggadocious father.

“Certain matchups you really get up for. Like when you play [Golden State Warriors guard] Steph [Curry], you definitely want to have a good game,” Wall said. “I’m playing against [Ball]. [Gortat] said what he said about me. I didn’t say anything. His dad has been talking. … That makes me want to go out there and lead my team and play the best I can play.

“His dad has gone on top of all that. Forget what the media is saying. ‘This is what my son is.’ Which, I’m not knocking him. He’s hyping his son up but he’s already getting all that hype. … He’s just taking it to another level.

“We didn’t say nothing about him, nothing to him, and he says, ‘The Wizards better be ready because he don’t ever lose two in a row,'” Wall continued, then scoffed at the absurdity of the father’s boast. “Like, this is the league now. It’s a different ballgame.”

Game Time

On Wednesday, the Wiz arrived in LA and the opening tip was thrown up at 7:30 PM PST. In the first quarter, the Lakers were able to hop out an early advantage behind Larry Nance Jr’s fierce start cleaning up the glass for his teammates. After one-quarter of play, the Lakers held a 23-18 lead. While John Wall got off to a slow start, Ball was already making an impact for his team. Here’s a look at their totals from the first quarter:

1st Quarter

John Wall Lonzo Ball
1/3 FG 0/1 FG
2 Pts 3 Reb
1 Ast 1 Ast
1 Stl 1 Blk
2 TO 1 Stl
2 PF
LAL leads 23-18

In quarter number two, John Wall was ready to make his presence felt. Though he missed his first three shots of the quarter, Wall was able to dish out two assists. Finally, Wall was able to get a shot to fall late in the second, a pull-up jumper from 13 feet to extend the lead to five with 44 seconds remaining. Jordan Clarkson answered back for the Lakers with a three-pointer with three seconds to go. That was all the time John Wall needed:

After two, Washington leads 49-45. Here’s a look at Ball and Wall’s totals through the half:

2nd Quarter

John Wall Lonzo Ball
3/8 FG 0/2 FG
0/1 3PA 3 Ast
6 Pts 4 Reb
3 Ast 1 Blk
1 Reb 1 Stl
1 Stl 2 PF
3 TO
1 PF
WAS leads 49-45

Washington and Wall continued to push Luke Walton’s young Laker squad in the 3rd. Wall poured in ten points and assisted on four Wizards baskets in the period. Lonzo, on the other hand, was just playing his game, not trying to do too much but helping where he can. In the quarter, the youngster dimed out three assists and scored his first bucket of the game to help keep the Washington lead close. The Wizards led by ten at the end of the quarter, but it could’ve been much worse. After three quarters:

3rd Quarter

John Wall Lonzo Ball
6/12 FG 1/3 FG
1/2 3PA 0/1 3PA
3/4 FT 2 Pts
16 Pts 6 Ast
7 Ast 4 Reb
1 Reb 1 Stl
1 Stl 1 Blk
4 TO 1 TO
1 PF 2 PF
WAS leads 79-69

Don’t be confused. Lonzo Ball is not a legitimate scoring threat in the NBA yet. He’s not going to average 20 points a night, at least this early in his career. However, Lonzo is still effective and proved that in the fourth quarter Wednesday night. In the last frame, the Lakers rallied around their rookie point guard and battled their way back into the game. Lonzo had his fingerprints all over the comeback assault. A big turning point in the game happened when Lonzo drew a foul on a three-point shot. Ball sank two of the three free throws to cut the lead to eight. Later in the quarter, Ball snagged a 50/50 ball off the glass for an offensive rebound that he quickly fired to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who drained the 27-foot three point jumper. KCP’s three cut the Wizard lead to two points with less than four to play.

While Lonzo was helping orchestrate a comeback, John Wall was missing shots. The superstar missed all five of his shot attempts in the quarter.

Now a little over a minute to play, the Lakers found themselves down four and watching John Wall bring the ball up the court. Seconds later, Wall pulls up but misses the shot. The rebound gathered in by none other than Lonzo Ball. On the Laker possession, Kyle Kuzma misses a three-point attempt and the Wizards take over. With 29 seconds left, the Lakers force Bradley Beal to take a bad step-back jumper. He misses, Lonzo snags the defensive rebound again. This time, Lonzo quickly finds Julius Randle who unloads a three-bomb into the basket to cut the lead to one. The Lakers then put Bradley Beal on the line who missed the second free throw to leave the lead at two with twelve seconds left. As time expired, Brandon Ingram successful converted a tip-in and tied the game at 92-92. Wall vs Ball through regulation:

4th Quarter

John Wall Lonzo Ball
6/17 FG 1/8 FG
1/3 3PA 0/3 3PA
3/4 FT 2/3 FT
16 Pts 5 Pts
9 Ast 8 Ast
3 Reb 7 Reb
1 Stl 1 Stl
4 TO 1 Blk
1 PF 1 TO
3 PF
Tied 92-92

In the extra session, Los Angeles had all the momentum and Lonzo was the difference maker. Lonzo missed a three-pointer to start but then scored the Lakers first bucket of overtime on a layup. Later in overtime, Ball found Kyle Kuzma for a 25-foot three point jumper to give the Lakers their first lead of the second half,97-95. After a Lakers goaltending call, John Wall came back down an regained the Wizards lead with a layup. Ten seconds later, Lonzo dished to a wide-open Caldwell-Pope who nailed the go-ahead bucket. With eleven seconds remaining, Julius Randle blocked a John Wall layup. On the inbound pass, the Lakers broke coverage and Randle jammed home an easy dunk to extend the lead to three. With four seconds remaining, John Wall had an opportunity to tie the game, but his running three-point attempt wouldn’t fall. Lakers win. Lonzo wins.

Overtime
John Wall Lonzo Ball
7/22 FG 2/11 FG
1/5 3PA 0/5 3PA
3/4 FT 2/3 FT
18 Pts 6 Pts
9 Ast 10 Ast
3 Reb 8 Reb
1 Stl 1 Stl
4 TO 1 Blk
1 PF 1 TO
2 PF
-14 +13

While neither put up spectacular numbers, Lonzo wins this battle. By no means at all did John Wall “torture” Lonzo. Yes, Wall scored more points, but Lonzo was more effective, especially when it mattered. Most importantly, the Lakers won. A very impressive win for Lakers, as well. Heading into the game, Washington was undefeated and ranked 3rd in TyGuy’s latest Top 5. For now, out buddy LaVar was right. The next time these two team clash will be in Washington November 9th. Stay tuned.

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