PHOENIX • Lonzo Ball took only six shots in his National Basketball Association (NBA) debut on Thursday night, scored just three points, and the Los Angeles Lakers were blown out by city rivals Clippers.
So it was time for a reboot on Friday night.
Aggressive and focused, Ball took 27 shots, scored 29 points and narrowly missed a triple-double in his second NBA game with 11 rebounds and nine assists. And the Lakers needed every bit of it to hold off the Phoenix Suns for a 132-130 win.
"He definitely was being more aggressive," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "The great thing about him, what we like about him, is that he just plays basketball and he reads (the game).
"He shot so much because of the way they were defending him. If he gets trapped, he'll make the pass every time. That's why we think he's going to be a special player."
Ball is the first Laker to score 29 points in his first or second career game since at least 1963, bettering the 26 that Magic Johnson scored in his debut in 1979. Ball just missed becoming the youngest NBA player with a triple-double, 27 days earlier than LeBron James.
"Today I did what I had to do to win. It doesn't take me long to learn," Ball said. "I learnt a lot from last game... it was my first time and people are going to criticise me regardless of what I do."
LONZO BALL AGAINST PHOENIX
The Lakers led by 12 points in the fourth quarter before the Suns pulled within 122-119 on a Tyson Chandler tip-in with 3:22 left.
But Ball scored the next three Lakers baskets, all on drives. The third basket put the Lakers up 130-122 with 1:35 left.
Los Angeles still had to hold on for the win. The Suns roared back and got as close as 131-130 on a Devin Booker three-pointer with 5.9 seconds left before the Lakers held on. Eric Bledsoe scored 28 points and Booker had 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for Phoenix. On Ball, Booker said: "He's a good player. We knew that coming into the night. He does a little bit of everything and gets his team involved."
James has picked up right where he left off last season, scoring 24 points with eight assists on Friday as the Cleveland Cavaliers cruised past the Milwaukee Bucks 116-97.
The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player led the Cavaliers in scoring for the second straight game despite missing most of the pre-season with an injury.
He played 37 minutes and drained 10 of 16 shots at Milwaukee's Bradley Centre arena.
"I felt better tonight than I did after game one," said James, who scored a team-high 29 points in a season-opening win over Boston on Tuesday.
"Each game is going to be another opportunity for me to get into game shape," he added. "Today I am still not where I want to be."
Defending champions Golden State Warriors came back from 17 points down to pick up their first win of the season, rallying to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 128-120 at the Smoothie King Centre.
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry scored 31 and 28 points respectively for the Warriors, who survived huge double-doubles from Anthony Davis (35 points, 17 rebounds) and DeMarcus Cousins (35 points, 13 rebounds).
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE