Lonzo Ball recorded his first career double-double and Brandon Ingram set a new career high with 25 points, as the Los Angeles Lakers claimed their first win of the 2017-18 season, a.k.a. "the Lonzo Ball era," on Friday night in Phoenix, 132-130.
As the score suggests, a defensive display, this was not.
Friday's contest in Phoenix pitted two of the three youngest rosters in the NBA in an entertaining show that featured Suns guard Devin Booker flirt with a triple-double, as the 20-year-old finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists on the night.
If Booker flirted with a triple-double, Ball went one step further and made a move when he tabbed 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in his first NBA victory. However, Ball did not seem interested in personal milestones, as the rookie point guard attacked and scored the basketball late in the contest, rather than go hunting for the milestone assist.
Along with Ball's brilliant display, Ingram started the night shooting well and finished with 25 points on 9-14 shooting from the field, which was a dramatic improvement on the 3-15 shooting display the 20-year-old put on only one night earlier.
In all, six Lakers scored in double figures and six Suns scored in double-figures. On Friday night in Phoenix, points were as easier to come by than sun burns in the Arizona desert. The only starter on either team not to score in double figures was Corey Brewer, but the veteran wing player had the tough task of slowing down Booker. Brewer's pesky defense on the Suns' scoring savant helped set the tone for the Lakers in terms of competing for 48 minutes.
Lakers coach Luke Walton called on Brewer to start in place of suspended guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In the Lakers' season opener, Walton had called upon Luol Deng to start, but that experiment did not work according to plan. On Friday, Brewer's energy seemingly helped the young team's focus on the road.
The two teams combined for 39 turnovers, which were split as evenly as possible, so this was not the cleanest of games for either team. When considering the Suns' 20 turnovers matched Booker's age of 20 and the Lakers' 19 turnovers matched Ball's age of 19, the errors made sense.
Still, Friday night in Phoenix offered an exciting shootout where neither team ever got too far out ahead of the other. And the pace of play was lightning fast to allow for big swings in either direction at any moment.
Of course, what would a win be without drama?
This game went down to the final play. After Ball helped the Lakers build a cushion in the fourth quarter, Brook Lopez, who recorded a double-double on the night, helped the Lakers secure a two-possession game with 10 seconds remaining.
Booker hitting a three-pointer four seconds later, though, complicated the Lakers' path to victory and made it a one point game with six seconds to play. Ingram marched to the foul line and split his free throws, so the Lakers could have conceivably lost the game with a Phoenix three-pointer.
After Larry Nance Jr. came up with what appeared to be a game-winning block, a phantom whistle with 3.1 seconds remaining sent T.J. Warren to the foul line with the opportunity to tie the game.
Warren missed the first free throw.
So, the former NC State forward intentionally missed the second foul shot in a desperate attempt to have the Suns control the rebound and tip it in for the tie. Somehow, Warren got his own rebound, but the last second heave did not draw iron.
Ultimately, the Lakers escaped with their first win of the season, and when the dust settled, one could not help but marvel at Ball's sensational game. On a night when Ingram scored a career-high 25 points in his second season, Ball outscored his elder teammate with 29 points and came within one assist of his first career triple-double in only his second ever NBA game.
While it may not be time to start planning the championship parade route just yet, one should imagine it's also also probably not the right move to pile on Ball every time he doesn't have a super star outing.
At 19 and only one day after half the world seemingly wrote him off as a bust, Ball looks every bit as good as advertised by his boisterous father.