CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A season ago, LeBron James congratulated Lonzo Ball on becoming the youngest player in league history to record a triple-double, breaking his own record. On Saturday, James and Ball set some triple-double history together in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 128-100 win over the Charlotte Hornets.
James (24 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists) and Ball (16 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) became the first pair of teammates to record a triple-double in the same game since Jason Kidd and Vince Carter did it for the New Jersey Nets on April 7, 2007. And they became the first Lakers teammates to do it since Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hung triple-dips on Detroit on Jan. 22, 1982.
“I mean, anytime you can put yourself in the conversation with Laker history and all the guys who came through this franchise, it’s pretty special,” James said. “And tonight is another example of that.”
James celebrated their shared feat on his Instagram account after the game.
Ball, who mirrored his game after James as a child, marveled at the transition from watching him from afar to competing alongside him.
“Ever since he got here, it’s been a dream come true for me,” Ball said after his first triple-double of the season and third of his career. “I watched him my whole life — he was my idol growing up. Then we both get a triple-double in the same game. I don’t even know if I dreamed of that before. It was a good day today.”
In becoming just the eighth pair of teammates to accomplish the feat in league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, James edged closer to Wilt Chamberlain for fifth on the all-time triple-double chart. Saturday was James’ second of the season and 75th of his career, putting him three behind Chamberlain’s 78. It was the 10th time in James’ career that he had his triple-double in the books within the first three quarters of a game, according to research compiled by ESPN Stats & Info.
Lonzo Ball adds to LeBron James’ triple-double with one of his own to lead the Lakers past the Hornets.
“We just try to do a little bit of everything to help our team win,” James said. “We’re one and the same when it comes to our playmaking ability. We’re always looking for our teammates, and that’s the greatest satisfaction we can have when we see our teammates score the ball. We’ve always been pretty good rebounders for our position — him at the guard spot, me at the forward spot. And then being able to put the ball in the hole as well. We just try to be aggressive, attack the rim, make shots from the outside when guys disrespect us, and we showed all of that tonight.”
James and Ball scored or assisted on 63 of the Lakers’ 73 points when they shared the court together, accounting for 86 percent of the Lakers’ offense between the two of them, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Furthermore, the Lakers shot 21-for-32 off passes from the pair (65.6 percent), including a 13-for-17 mark (76.5 percent) on uncontested shots.
“They just — they play basketball,” said Lakers coach Luke Walton. “They make the right reads. I thought they were both very aggressive as far as both ends of the floor, making sure we didn’t lose two in a row. It’s something we talk about as a team. They’re both such brilliant playmakers, when they’re aggressive and can get in the lane, it puts a lot of pressure on another team’s defense. LeBron, we’re kind of used to him doing that, but I thought Zo made some really nice strides tonight as far as continuing to try to get downhill.”
L.A. bounced back from a 126-111 loss in Houston on Thursday to draw even on their four-game road trip 1-1. They play the Washington Wizards on the second night of a back-to-back Sunday and conclude the trip Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets.
Ball was 3-for-9 from the field against the Rockets (0-for-6 from 3), finishing with 7 points, 8 assists and 3 rebounds, compared to 14 points and 9 assists for Houston’s Chris Paul. Saturday, Ball got the better of Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker, who finished with just four points on 2-for-13 shooting and three assists.
“We always want Zo to be ultra-aggressive,” James said. “His speed, his size, his athleticism, be able to put the defense at bay and put pressure on the defense. We always want him to do that. So, Zo, he reads and reacts the game, and he’s been playing extremely good basketball. No matter if he’s making shots or not.”
It was James who made Ball aware that the former No. 2 pick had 14 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds through three quarters and was nearing the milestone.
“Everybody knows when I play I don’t look at the stats,” Ball said. “[James] was the first one who told me: ‘Go get it.’ I’m like, ‘What do I got?’ Told me, ‘Look up [at the scoreboard].’ I saw what I had and ended up getting it.”
Walton was surprised to hear that Ball paused on the baseline with a preening gesture to punctuate a second-half dunk he threw down — “He does a lot without showing emotion,” Walton said — and also expressed amazement that only two pairs of Lakers teammates turned in triple-double duty on the same night before.
“I know it’s not easy, but there’s been a lot of good players in Lakers history,” he said. “I figured Walton and Kobe [Bryant] would have done it a few times.”