Luke Walton called it before the game even started.
“They’re going to come after him,” the Lakers coach said, referring to his new star pupil, Lonzo Ball.
Magic Johnson even warned Ball. “I told him, ‘[Patrick] Beverley is no joke,’” Johnson said.
Even as the Dodgers clinched their first World Series berth in 29 years, Los Angeles turned out to see the debut of the city’s newest point guard. Only, the L.A. playmaker dominating the floor wasn't the one they probably thought it would be heading into Thursday's season-opener.
Beverley, who also arrived in Los Angeles this summer, via the Chris Paul trade, made it known from the get-go he was the guard to watch in L.A. Beverley stuck to Lonzo’s hip as if the two were conjoined. He attached himself to Lonzo’s ear, too, repeatedly talking to the much-hyped rookie every time they went up the floor.
Pat Beverley is being very physical and pestering Lonzo Ball. pic.twitter.com/6op6qKcrjg— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) October 20, 2017
Almost from the jump, Beverley barely let Ball corral inbound passes. Beverley body-checked Ball onto the Staples Center floor almost immediately after the rookie crossed half court, punctuating it with a few choice words. After swiping the ball from Ball with four minutes left in the second, Beverley shouted “first team!” three times in a row following his fast-break layup, in reference to his place on last season’s All-Defensive team, and held up his index finger.
The hand gesture could have also signaled how many shots Ball would make in his debut. All told, Ball finished with three points (1-for-6), nine rebounds, and four assists in 29 minutes as the Lakers lost 108-92 to the Clippers.
Clippers guard Patrick Beverly screamed outside locker room, "Weak ass m****** f******. Bring him out on the... https://t.co/9BO7aCqMjb— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) October 20, 2017
By the time the Lakers had gone down by 30 points in the fourth quarter, Ball was sitting calmly on the bench in a Lakers purple warm-up jacket, far enough away from Beverley.
“He’s a great talent, but he’s got to go through the tough times,” Beverley said of Ball postgame. “I just had to set the tone, man, due to all the riff-raff his dad brings. … Had to welcome his little young ass to the NBA.”
Patrick Beverley pretty move and NASTY block pic.twitter.com/gZbSxkx0CK— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) October 20, 2017
Even when Beverley was on the bench, the Clippers guard would venture farther out onto the court than Doc Rivers to praise a defensive play or call out for Ball’s man to press up on him.
It wasn’t just against Beverley that Ball struggled, either. Ball couldn’t blow past Austin Rivers in a one-on-one matchup more than once. As a whole, the Lakers’ offense more than showed its deficiencies and youth. There was little spacing, and not much of the pace they had talked about and showed off in the preseason.
So many expectations have been heaped on Ball since he was drafted, and by proxy, they’ve raised the bar for the Lakers, too. But in one night, Beverley issued Ball, the Lakers, and all of Los Angeles a big reality check.