Before Lonzo Ball’s NBA debut, Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters that L.A. Clippers guard Patrick Beverley “hounding him all over the floor is going to be a great learning experience for him.” Beverley did not disappoint, taking Ball to (home)school in the Clippers’ season-opening win.
Starting Clippers point guard Milos Teodosic is a more evolved offensive version of the oldest Ball brother, minus the upside. Teodosic threaded silky passes through passing lanes, but shot only 2-of-9 from the field. Thanks to Beverley’s defensive effort on Ball, Teodosic still outscored Lonzo (1-of-6 from the field, nine rebounds, four assists), whose only points came courtesy of a second-quarter trey.
We should’ve seen this coming. LaVar spent the summer talking Lonzo into hardwood battles he wasn’t prepared for. What began as another fantasy LaVar was spouting caught the ear of Beverley.
LaVar Ball seems confident that Lonzo could hold his own against Steph… thoughts? pic.twitter.com/soZPJpJHIB
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) September 15, 2017
— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) September 15, 2017
Steph will probably shower 3-pointers on Lonzo when the time comes, but that’s a more welcoming showdown. Fast-paced offense is Ball’s natural habitat. Beverley takes his defensive assignments personally. And this was extra special. Beverley’s introduction to L.A. under the bright opening-night lights of Staples Center against a media darling was bound to elicit a special performance.
Four minutes into the game, Beverley knocked Ball to the floor in retaliation for a forearm the latter used to separate himself. Beverley was stuck to Ball on the ensuing inbounds pass. It obviously got into the rookie’s head, as Ball immediately committed a backcourt violation.
Pat Bev welcoming Lonzo to the league pic.twitter.com/LEBWMuJyG0
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 20, 2017
A few minutes before halftime, Beverley plucked the ball from Lonzo as he attempted a crossover dribble, and when he got a chance to flex on offense, he didn’t hesitate. Nothing was sacred. After draining a third-quarter 3 in the right corner, Beverley taunted Lonzo on his way back down the floor.
Patrick Beverley clowns Lonzo Ball with the John Cena "You can't see me" after hitting a 3 in Lonzo's face pic.twitter.com/Ar81SFO8gN
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 20, 2017
Following the win, Beverley was still sounding off. He could be heard outside the locker room screaming, “”Weak a** mother****ers. Don’t put that mother f***er on me,” per ESPN’s Arash Markazi.
However, Beverley played it coy when asked about those comments in the locker room afterwards:
Patrick Beverley wasn’t interested in hearing what he said or talking about what he said as he entered the locker room after the game. pic.twitter.com/VhGIP9t4jO
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) October 20, 2017
Ball’s high school squad was the country’s highest-scoring prep team on their way to a national championship. UCLA was the highest-scoring team in college hoops during his freshman campaign.
Beverley represents the antithesis of Lonzo. He developed his physical game in Chicago playgrounds. Lonzo is a pass-first, -second and -third McDonald’s All-American raised in the Chino Hills suburbs in LaVar’s supercharged pace-and-space offensive system. Beverley left Arkansas a score-first point guard amidst an academic scandal before taking up residence in a Ukrainian professional league. He returned to the NBA a hardened defensive specialist on a 55-win Houston Rockets team.
The Lakers drafted Beverley in the second round before trading his rights to the Miami Heat. He didn’t find solid footing until after bouncing between the NBA and European leagues for several years. Since being drafted second overall, Lonzo has been heralded as the catalyst of L.A.’s return to Showtime.
Hot takes and flash judgments will be abound, but Ball drew a tough matchup for his debut after missing most of a shortened preseason. Keep in mind he responded to a subpar 5-5-4 line in his first summer league game by dropping nearly three triple-doubles and earning MVP honors in Las Vegas.
Beverley’s ongoing rivalry with another L.A. native, Russell Westbrook, is the best depiction of the veteran guard’s internal fire, but the Fresh Prince of L.A. is his new whipping boy — for now.
Summary of Patrick Beverley introducing himself to Lonzo Ball (3 pts on 1-of-6 shooting, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 bruised ego) pic.twitter.com/iTFgPlkq55
— DJ Dunson (@CerebralSportex) October 20, 2017
Ball can redeem himself on Friday against a Phoenix Suns team that lost in record fashion in its opener. He’ll then face New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday before another national TV matchup opposite Washington Wizards All-Star John Wall. And the hits keep coming after that for the rookie.
Snoop Dogg said it best on Kevin Garnett’s “Area 21” segment:
Snoop on Lonzo: "His father put him in a lion's den with some pork chop drawers on" pic.twitter.com/oLFLc2qQ4J
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) October 20, 2017
And it doesn’t seem like LaVar is interested in making life easier for his son going forward. Via ESPN:
“Yeah, you shut the motherf***er down,” LaVar Ball told ESPN after the game. “And your check still ain’t going to go no higher than what it is. Yeah, you shut him down. OK … Who is Patrick Beverley? He played all last year and nobody said nothing about him. Now we are looking at your first game. Why? Because Lonzo’s name is attached to it.
“So you got to be [all hard],” Ball added as he slapped his fists together. “Let’s see what you do the next five games, if you are going to be pumped up towards everybody like that and go back to your 0-for-5 shooting and your two or three rebounds. Nobody is going to care about you. But you put my son’s name in it and you put my name in it, now you got some action and you got some people talking.”
It seems LaVar isn’t up on his NBA homework. Beverley earned first-team All-Defensive honors last season, and he will meet his new crosstown rival three more times this year, including next month.