NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - On an average night, Lonzo Ball is a third scoring option. But Sunday was far from average with the Pelicans top two scorers, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, both held out of action. In their place, Lonzo became the alpha from the very start.
“He wanted to play,” says head coach Stan Van Gundy. “He wanted this win badly. He knew we needed him to do that.”
Ball’s 27 points were two shy of a career high, but his 8 threes made marked the best shooting performance of his young career, and it’s a combination of a few factors. Part of it comes from pure confidence that’s grown throughout the season. But most of it comes from the hard work he’s put in not just improving his three-point shot, but completely re-working his shooting mechanics over the last two years, something coach Van Gundy says takes a rare level of humility.
“When you’ve had as much success playing basketball in your life as Lonzo Ball has, to be the number two pick in the draft and to have the humility to say, ‘I need to change something. I need to get better.’ And then to come in to do the work that he does with Fred (Vinson) and put in that time and effort, that’s something to really be admired,” says Van Gundy.
“This is my job,” says Ball. “We’re paid to be in the gym. We came in. My shot wasn’t working. A lot of credit, pretty much all of the credit goes to Fred.”
“Even then, he’ll give the credit to Fred,” says Van Gundy. “Fred deserves a lot of credit, but no coach gets anywhere with a player without the player’s work ethic and desire and humility to learn. Those guys have been a great combo, and Lonzo deserves all the success he’s had.”
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