LAS VEGAS - Lonzo Ball continued his takeover in the desert as he led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 22-point halftime lead over the Dallas Mavericks in the Las Vegas Summer League semifinal with 14 points, 10 assists, four rebounds and a steal and no turnovers in 18 minutes of work.
By himself, Ball had more assists than the entire Dallas Mavericks' team at the intermission of Sunday night's playoff game, as the kid from Chino Hills continued to resurrect hope in the stumbling Lakers' franchise.
While the first half highlighted Ball's talents and exemplified his impact on the game, the second half only saw the former UCLA Bruin play three and a half minutes before leaving the game with tightness in his right calf. Ball ended up getting his calf stretched out on the baseline before disappearing into the locker room tunnel for more stretching.
Ball returned to the bench soon after, but he would not return to the court.
With the Lakers leading by comfortably by double digits for the majority of the ball game, the decision to hold out the 19-year-old made a great deal of sense, especially considering Summer League is essentially a glorified exhibition tournament.
Without Ball, though, the Lakers nearly blew a 26-point lead. As the Lakers fell apart without their star guard and the Dallas Mavericks made their final push, the game closed to a one-point difference. Fans at the Thomas & Mack Center, who were overwhelmingly in favor of the Lakers, took to chanting "We want Ball," but Lakers Summer League coach Jud Buechler did not flinch or even look into the point guard sensation's direction.
Instead, Kyle Kuzma, Matt Thomas and Vander Blue led the Lakers to victory, as Kuzma finished with a game-high 24 points, Thomas chipped in 20 points and Blue tabbed 17 points in the win.
For Dallas, Dennis Smith Jr. led the way with 21 points, and the Mavericks matched the Lakers with all five starters scoring in double figures. Though Dallas closed to within one point, the Mavericks never led at any stage in the game.
Next, the Lakers will take on the Portland Trail Blazers at 7 p.m on Monday night in the Las Vegas Summer League championship game. The Lakers will play their fifth game in six nights, though Ball's involvement remained somewhat in doubt after the game. As a positive sign, Ball's calf was not listed as strained, only as "tight."
According to both the player and his coach, though, the training staff and management will make the determination on whether or not the new face of the Lakers' franchise will play in the 2017 Summer League finale in front of a national audience.
Notes: The Lakers shot 77.3 percent from beyond the three-point line, and their long range shooting has become a common trend in the Summer League session. Ball finished with 16 points, 10 assists, four rebounds, one steal and no turnovers in 21 and a half minutes before getting pulled.