LOS ANGELES – All Denver point guard Jamal Murray had to do was dribble out the clock Saturday night. Lakers players were untucking their jerseys, their night presumably done after a major fourth quarter collapse that led to a 115-100 loss.
Murray, however, had one last message to send.
As he bolted past Lonzo Ball, Murray dribbled the ball around one side of the Lakers rookie while running past him on the other. Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle were quick to foul Murray in defense of Ball, while the entire transaction quickly went viral.
A day later, the Lakers made it clear that they did not take kindly to Murray’s display of one-upsmanship, with Luke Walton calling it “immature.”
“I wasn’t a fan of it,” said Larry Nance Jr., who was on the bench. “You already won, no need to showboat. … That’s kind of an unwritten rule of (even) high school basketball. That’s Day 1. You don’t show anybody up. That’s an obvious sign of disrespect so we took it as such.”
Murray offered something of an apology Saturday night, telling reporters he “may have taken it to far” and that it was “a bad play.”
Walton said he would show video of the play prior to the Lakers next matchup with Denver, on March 9, “hopefully to motivate and (tick) our guys off a little bit.”
Ball’s back was turned as Murray dribbled around him, and it was not clear if he even recognized what had happened. For as many headlines as Ball generates, they never stem from comments he makes. Asked about Murray’s play prior to Sunday’s matchup with Denver, Ball once again declined to escalate the situation.
“I don’t care,” he said.
For the time being, the exchange serves as a reminder of a message Walton has spent the season imparting to his team.
“We have to trust each other because we’re all we have,” Walton said. “The fans are laughing, their players are laughing. Teams like beating up on the Lakers. We have each other. Because that’s who we have to rely on.”
In NBA circles, it’s possible no one’s opinion on point guards is as valued as that of Mike D’Antoni. The one-time Lakers coach helped Steve Nash become a two-time MVP and made Kendall Marshall an assists machine in L.A.
So, here’s what he thinks of Ball: He likes him, but wishes people didn’t compare him to the great point guards who came before him.
“That’s probably not fair to him,” D’Antoni said.
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