- Lonzo Ball struggled in his first NBA regular season game.
- Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley was on Ball’s case throughout the game, pressuring him, trash-talking, and playing physically.
- Beverley said it won’t be the last time players go after Ball because of the attention around his family.
Lonzo Ball received a cold welcome to the NBA on Thursday from Los Angeles Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley.
Beverley, one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, made it his personal mission to harass Ball in his NBA debut, helping the Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-92.
Ball shot just 1-of-6 for 3 points, with 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 turnovers, struggling with Beverley’s defensive pressure and aggressive play. According to ESPN, in the 29 plays that Beverley guarded Ball, the Lakers shot just 7-of-21 with 7 turnovers, an effect of their primary playmaker getting locked up.
In between plays, Beverley stalked Ball and trash-talked him. Early in the game, he crowded Ball on an inbounds play, prompting Ball to push him away. Moments later, Beverley hip-checked Ball to the ground, drawing a foul and proudly raising his hand.
Beverley also picked Ball’s pocket for a smooth layup in transition.
After the game, Beverley told reporters that he offered a grave warning to Ball that tied back to his father, LaVar.
“I just had to set the tone,” Beverley said. “I told him after the game that due to all the riffraff his dad brings, that he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him. I let him know that after the game. What a better way to start than spending 94 feet guarding him tonight — welcome the young guy to the NBA.”
Indeed, LaVar Ball did seem to motivate Beverley. Back in September, Beverley had already locked in on his target.
Ball, to his credit, handled it well. He maintained his composure and had a few nice drives that led to assists, at times showing off his ball-handling skills to evade Beverley.
“That’s basketball,” Ball said after the game of Beverley’s defensive pressure. “He plays 94 feet, that’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s a good defender.”
As Beverley said, he certainly won’t be the last player to go after Ball, given the amount of attention he has received. Ball, by all accounts, is quiet and humble, but his father’s antics has drawn the ire of NBA players.
Not every point guard will lock up Ball like Beverley did, but Beverley also isn’t in the offensive class of players like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul, all of whom Ball will see multiple times this season. All of them will look to make sure Ball has long, tough nights.
Welcome to the NBA.