Ball didn't offer much in the way of scoring with five points on 2-of-5 shooting, but the rookie point guard made his presence felt by grabbing five rebounds and dishing out nine assists in 27 minutes. All of his points came in the first two minutes of the game, and he didn't attempt a shot in the second half.
That stat line is, at least right now, what Ball is doing to make an impact for the Lakers. His ability to incorporate others into the scoring and stay on the glass has helped make up for his lackluster shooting (31.9 percent overall entering Saturday).
Head coach Luke Walton kept Ball on the bench when the team pulled away in the fourth quarter, though Lakers beat reporter Mike Trudell noted that was more a result of how well Jordan Clarkson was playing:
Trevor Lane of Lakers Nation echoed Trudell's sentiments while also giving Ball kudos for his performance:
On Friday, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was seemingly trying to light a fire under Ball in an effort to help improve the team.
"He needs to get better now," he said during an appearance on Spectrum SportsNet in L.A. (via Lonzo Wire's Josh Martin). Bryant also included Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma in those comments, so he wasn't putting everything on Ball's 20-year-old shoulders.
Responding to a fan on Twitter regarding those comments, Bryant noted he wasn't concerned about Ball or the Lakers:
The only thing Ball really has left to figure out is his shot. It's a big issue, especially considering where his overall shooting percentage is at this season, but there's no reason to panic so early in his career.
Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, possibly wanting to send a message to Los Angeles' young star, nearly took Ball out of his shoes on this crossover in the first quarter:
ESPN's Kevin Pelton noted two weeks ago Ball's defense, based on real plus-minus, rated him about average or slightly below average for the season's first month. Walker was able to exploit the rookie with those moves on that play.
Despite some of Ball's struggles against the Hornets, the Lakers were able to earn their 10th win of the season. It's also the third time they have won back-to-back games.
Things are still a work in progress for Ball and the Lakers. The team is piecing things together quicker than he is, but there have been enough signs of life, even in a game like this, to keep expecting that All-Star potential to show up as he gains more experience.