Lonzo Ball is eager to face his brother LaMelo Ball when the Pelicans face the Hornets on Friday, but getting New Orleans back on track is his main concern.
The Pelicans are 4-4 after suffering close back-to-back losses to the Pacers and Thunder, while the Hornets ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Hawks on Wednesday to 3-5.
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LaMelo was the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and the rookie is already looking for a spot in Charlotte’s starting lineup, averaging 12.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists in his first eight games in the league.
In his fourth appearance, LaMelo had 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 118-99 victory over the Mavericks. He became the first rookie to post such a stat line (at least 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists) in their first four games in the league since Lonzo Ball in 2017, and only the fifth since 1985-86; Kevin Durant, Grant Hill and Lloyd Daniels are the others to achieve the feat.
Eight games in his NBA career, Lonzo averaged 9.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists in eight starts for the Lakers, the latest of which saw him fail to score a single point in a loss to the Trail Blazers.
The Pelicans-Hornets game will be broadcast nationally in the United States but Lonzo has no plans to let a family reunion interfere with more lofty goals.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s the first time we’ve teamed up in a real game, but I think it’s going to be an opportunity to just get back on track. We lost the last two so we want to return it from tomorrow, ”he said.
“It’s just to win. It’ll be cool to see him there and all, but he’s going to do what he can for his team and I’m going to do what I can for my team and go from there.”
When asked if he was planning on giving LaMelo a trashy speech, Lonzo added, “No, I’m just going to play my game. Wherever the coach (Stan Van Gundy) puts me, I’ll do my best. to stop my team and push the break the other way. “
Although he spent his formative years together, Lonzo might be surprised when he finally takes on LaMelo, having played at least one-on-one during their youth.
“Not really too much one-on-one; a lot of two-on-two, three-on-three, though, pretty much our entire life,” he said.
“One on one, I was just always a little too big for him. As far as the backyard game goes, we played three on three almost every day. We’ve always been there and I think you guys see it in his game. He’s not afraid of anyone. He’s always played and it always has been for him. “
Lonzo and LaMelo have enjoyed only one season as teammates alongside their other brother LiAngelo, who is said to have signed a contract to play in the next G League season, in high school in Chino Hills in 2015-16, going 35-0 and winning a state championship. .
“It was a lot of fun. We went unbeaten that year. It was the one time we all got to play together in high school and we made the most of it,” said Lonzo Ball. “It was just a fun time all around, being with them before I left on my trip and they went their way as well.”
While Lonzo Ball spent a year at UCLA before being drafted second overall by the Lakers in 2017, LaMelo chose not to play in college.
He turned pro and played in Lithuania and Australia on either side of participation in the Junior Basketball Association, a league that was started by his father, LaVar Ball, to provide an alternative to college.
“Everyone has to find their own path. Obviously I took the more traditional path, he didn’t, but at the end of the day, we both ended up where we wanted to be,” said said Lonzo Ball.
“Hard work really pays off. It doesn’t matter who you are, you are focused on something and you can do it. I really believe it. It worked for me, it worked for him, so that’s what I do. would say to kids growing up today too. “
Now that the duo are on the same stage, Lonzo said: “It just shows that all the hard work paid off … and we both ended up where we wanted to go.”