Lonzo Ball gets a lot of criticism, but he fired back at his critics Sunday night with his second career triple-double.
It was the second-highest scoring output of the season for Los Angeles, and the Nuggets simply couldn't keep up after Nikola Jokic got ejected in the first half. The Lakers improved to 7-10 with the win, while Denver is now 9-7.
Ball didn't exactly answer his question marks about his shooting after finishing 5-of-13 from the floor and 1-of-4 from three. However, he was the clear star of the day while contributing in a lot of ways, coming through in big moments on both ends of the court:
Lonzo's 2nd career triple-double: 11 PTS - 16 REBS - 11 ASTS #NBARooks https://t.co/6ES1AEoUmN2017-11-20 05:00:16
In addition to his triple-double, he also had two blocks and finished plus-29 on the court.
While many have been worried about his play so far this season, Ball turned heads with this performance:
Lyle Spencer @LyleMSpencer
Every now and then I recognize the Lonzo Ball I saw at Chino Hills HS and UCLA. This is one of those nights. @ZO2_ can play the game.2017-11-20 03:48:37
Shahan Ahmed @shahanLA
So, Lonzo Ball went 8 days in between triple-doubles...and in the middle, analysts were asking for him to get sent to the G-League, calling him a bust or calling for a benching. EIGHT DAYS. It was literally last Saturday.2017-11-20 04:32:16
Tania Ganguli @taniaganguli
Lonzo Ball and Magic Johnson are the only Lakers to have multiple triple-doubles in their rookie year. Hey, Jason Kidd said this would be the norm for him.2017-11-20 04:38:38
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Via @EliasSports: fewest career games needed for 2nd triple-double in NBA history Oscar Robertson 3 Ben Simmons 9 Hambone Williams 10 Magic Johnson 12 Connie Hawkins 14 Lonzo Ball 17 https://t.co/3Eb8rIsFpS2017-11-20 04:33:42
It was a complete effort to lead the Lakers to a relatively easy victory against a quality opponent.
The Nuggets fell behind early, leading to some frustration and the first-half ejection of both Jokic and head coach Mike Malone:
Bleacher Report NBA @BR_NBA
Jokic and Mike Malone get tossed from the game 😬 https://t.co/6AOq30vxVZ2017-11-20 03:35:32
Paul Millsap also left the game early with a wrist injury. Millsap had five points and four rebounds in 13 minutes, while Jokic was limited to just six points and six rebounds in 12 minutes.
Even when their star big men were on the court, the Nuggets struggled offensively in the first half just one game after scoring 146 points. With 13 turnovers by halftime, it was not a strong day for the Western Conference squad.
The Lakers had no problems scoring, building up a 70-48 lead at the half behind 17 points in 17 minutes from Julius Randle.
He came off the bench and was plus-26 in the first half, and he had some impressive finishes:
17 PTS from Julius Randle on 8/12 shooting in the 1st half! #LakeShow https://t.co/LDInOsd1N42017-11-20 03:52:02
The forward finished with a game-high 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Brook Lopez was a key part of the success in the second half, ending his night with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
While the Nuggets had seven players in double figures, including 20 from Gary Harris, they were never within 10 points the entire second half as they suffered their third straight road loss.