Lonzo Ball bounced back from a forgettable debut against the Los Angeles Clippers, as the Lakers’ newest point guard put up a near triple-double performance with 29 points, 9 assists and 11 rebounds against the Phoenix Suns. The 19-year-old Ball played more aggressively on offense, knocking down to 12 of his 27 shot attempts to lead the Lakers to their first win of the season.

After crumbling against Patrick Beverley’s "bully-ball" defense, Ball looked much more comfortable in his second game as he finished the first half with nine points, five assists and five rebounds with one steal and a turnover.

Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN also took notice that Ball was more offensive-oriented though he did not forget his primary duty of keeping his teammates involved.

In the second half, Ball continued to punish Suns’ porous defense, igniting a late run in the third to give the Lakers a double-digit cushion heading into the payoff period. However, the Suns responded with a big rally of their own in the fourth quarter to cut the Lakers’ lead to one point, 131-130, with six seconds left on the clock. In the end, a Brandon Ingram made a free throw and a solid defensive play helped the Lakers survive the Suns 132-130.

Lousy season-opener

The Lakers’ season-opener against the intra-city rival Clippers was supposed to be a coming out party for this year’s No.2 overall pick.

But after a three-point on 1-of-6 shooting performance against the Los Angeles Clippers, hoops fans and NBA legends weighed in once more on if Ball is really worth the hype.

During TNT’s "Inside the NBA" post-game analysis of the Lakers-Clippers game, Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal couldn’t hide their disappointment after witnessing a cold shooting performance from the former UCLA product.

Barkley, in particular, didn’t mince words in scrutinizing Lonzo’s father, LaVar, for putting a big target on his son’s back the moment he steps into the league.

“I think he’s gonna be a good player. I think he’s a nice kid too. But all that stuff with his daddy, them boys are gonna be gunning for him,” Barkley said of Lonzo.

“These guys they’ve been sitting around reading all these articles, listening to everything his father said, and these boys are gunning for his head.”

O’Neal, on the other hand, believed the Lakers’ point guard played safe in his NBA debut. Shaq, who also came to the league with the massive hype around him as the No.1 pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, encouraged Ball to bring his A-game every single night.

“When you are the No.1 pick, there’s a lot of fanfare behind you, money, commercials, people talking smack. You have to make a name for yourself from Day one. You gotta let these veterans know and these people know that I am here. He played safe today,” O’Neal said on “Inside the NBA” as a reaction to Ball’s sub-par showing.

Rooms for Improvement

While Shaq and Chuck took turns in expressing discontent with the rookie’s output, Kenny Smith saw some positives in Ball’s first NBA game. Smith, a point guard during his pro days, really thinks Ball can bounce back from a forgettable debut. He also hoped that the match-up with an All-Defensive player like Beverly should serve as an eye-opener to the rookie that any NBA player can rise up to the challenge at any given night.