“Put this loss on me,” a dejected Ball said after the Jazz beat the Lakers 96-81. “… We were coming back. Two dumb plays by me, and they got up.”
The Lakers’ No. 2 overall pick was held to nine points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals and five turnovers. It was the first time this season that Ball failed to post at least seven rebounds in a game.
Ball and the Lakers fell behind 31-16 at the end of the first quarter but were within six late in the third, when Mitchell came flying from the wing on an Alec Burks‘ missed 3, catching and throwing down the rebound with a thunderous, one-handed putback dunk that electrified the Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Ball was in position to grab the rebound, and no one boxed out Utah’s rookie guard, who had a running start. Ball then threw a turnover on the ensuing play, and that led to a Mitchell 3-pointer that pushed the Jazz lead back to 11 heading into the fourth. The Lakers got no closer than five after that.
“That was my fault,” Ball said of the Mitchell putback dunk that Lakers coach Luke Walton said swung the momentum completely. “If you think about it, that kind of changed the whole course of the game. … I should have boxed him out. Then I threw the turnover.”
After the loss, Ball tweeted, “If you not with us now, don’t be with us later … we gone figure it out.”
If you not with us now don’t be with us later… we gone figure it out 👌🏽
— Lonzo Ball (@ZO2_) October 29, 2017
While Ball has arguably had the most attention and hype around him in this draft class, Mitchell was the best rookie on the floor on Saturday. The 13th overall pick made nine of 16 shots and had a career-high 22 points to lead the Jazz (3-3).
Ball rediscovered his outside shot, making three 3-pointers after shooting 1-for-14 from behind the arc in his previous three games.
The Jazz did the best job of any team thus far this season keeping Ball off the glass and limiting his assists as well. His two rebounds were a season-low, and his four assists tied his season low.
It has been a tough stretch of games for the Lakers rookie, who turned 20 on Friday. Ball and the other Lakers’ starters sat out the final 3 minutes, 42 seconds of a 101-92 loss to Toronto on Friday at Staples Center after Walton was upset with his starters for not getting back on defense.
“Definitely can improve a lot,” Ball said of his play. “I think I had nine points and four assists. It’s not enough when I am going like that.”
“That’s just a big team, man, to be honest,” Ball said of why he wasn’t able to make an impact in rebounding and assists like he normally does. “[Rudy] Gobert, he is very hard to keep off the glass. Favors as well. They were around the rim constantly, kind of picking up everything.”