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Lonzo Ball working out on court with Brandon Ingram, Caldwell-Pope

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Lonzo Ball has been high profile this summer.

He’s leading the Lakers to the Summer League title. He — along with his father LaVar and the rest of the family — are the focus of a new “Ball in the Family” reality series streaming on Facebook. He’s even dropping some rhymes.

But he’s also in the gym daily getting his body and game ready for the season. He’s been working out with the other young player the Lakers hope is a cornerstone of their future, Brandon Ingram.

“Brandon’s in the gym every day and works extremely hard,” Ball told NBCSports.com. “I didn’t know he’s as vocal as he is. He definitely talks a lot. Speaking for myself, I definitely appreciate it, everything he does for the team. Like I said he’s in there every day so we’re just getting to know each other more and more as the days go on and I look forward to playing with him this year.”

Same is true of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a young two-way player the Lakers snapped up when the Pistons couldn’t reach a deal with him and moved on this summer.

“I have (worked out with him), I definitely like his game a lot,” Ball said. “he plays hard, and he plays on both sides of the ball. I like his game a lot, a true competitor… He plays defense but he’s a very capable scorer as well. Just based on my experience playing with him he’s great in transition, great athlete, and he can shoot.”

As for what Ball is focused on, it starts with getting stronger to be ready for the marathon grind of the NBA season.

“Strength, because I’m going against men every night,” Ball told NBC of what Luke Walton told him to work on after Summer League. “But the biggest thing on the court was probably ball screens, playing point guard ball screens is a big part of the game, especially in today’s game. So he definitely put a lot of emphasis on that.”

That’s in the halfcourt (and early in the clock, expect a lot of drag screens from the Lakers this year where a center trailing the transition play, such as Brook Lopez, stops out high and sets a screen for Ball). What the Lakers are really counting on from Ball is to change their style of play, as he did the Summer League team, by pushing the ball and making the Lakers a transition team.

The question is can Ball, who is not as gifted athletically as star point guards such as Russell Westbrook or John Wall, keep that up in the NBA.

“Luke Walton wants to play fast and I feel like the NBA is becoming a faster game every year,” Ball said. “The way I play, getting my teammates the ball, just doing whatever I can to help the team win. I feel like I’m different than the some of the point guards the NBA is used to, but I feel I can still be effective.”

In Summer League he didn’t pick up the team’s pace because he was fast up the court with the ball, but rather because he had his head up and passed the ball ahead to guys running the floor, which got Kyle Kuzma and others some easy buckets.

“From a young age that’s one of the first things my dad taught me, the ball always travels faster than a person,” Ball said. “I mean, I don’t find it necessary to dribble up the court if you can kick it ahead for an easier bucket. Especially in less time. So it just makes more sense to me to kick it up.”

In a couple of weeks, Ball will be kicking it up in Lakers training camp. The “Ball in the Family” cameras are not going to be following him there much, the reality show will focus more on him after practice and the Ball family life. What Ball wants people to see is what he has always seen — his father can be bombastic, but there’s much more to his personality.

“I think they’re already seeing it because I get a lot of feedback on the show, and a lot more people are seeing the person that he really is,” Ball said. “I’m happy for him, I’m happy people get to see the person I have known my whole life.”

Russell Westbrook hits game-winning 3-pointer to beat Kings (VIDEO)

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Welp, looks like Russell Westbrook is re-energized after All-Star Weekend.

As the first night of games after the break got underway on Thursday night, it was Westbrook who gave us a jolt as he helped the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Sacramento Kings on the road.

With just a second to go, Sacramento’s Justin Jackson had tied the game up at 107-107. This came after Vince Carter pulled up confidently from nearly 30 feet out, missing badly. Sacramento missed another follow, and then Jackson put home the final try.

Via Twitter:

That left the Thunder to advance the ball with just one second left.

Oklahoma City ran a simple play with Westbrook running near-to-far across the arc from the inbounder, eventually settling at the top of the 3-point line.

He let it fly, and that allowed OKC to come away with a win, 110-107.

Bulls find way to lose despite being up by 5 with 35 seconds left

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CHICAGO (AP) Ben Simmons scored 32 points, making two free throws with 5.6 seconds left to complete Philadelphia’s rally from five points down in the final minute, and the 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls 116-115 on Thursday night.

Joel Embiid had 30 points and 13 rebounds, and Simmons added 11 assists and seven rebounds as Philadelphia won its sixth straight and snapped a four-game road losing streak.

Bobby Portis had a career-high 38 points and Zach LaVine added 23 for the Bulls, who were 18 for 34 on 3-pointers.

Chicago had a 115-114 lead and the ball with 8 seconds to go before Embiid deflected an inbounds pass to create a turnover. Simmons came up with the ball near half court and was fouled by Denzel Valentine. He made both free throws.

Portis had a chance for a game winner, but his short attempt – with Embiid defending – just missed.

The 76ers raced to a 25-7 lead midway through the first quarter before Portis got hot and Chicago started making 3s.

Philadelphia’s lead was down to 33-29 at the end of the quarter and the Bulls busted out for 40 points in the second to take a 69-67 halftime lead. Chicago was 9 of 12 on 3-pointers in the quarter, including 4 for 5 by Portis.

The 76ers were up by five early in the fourth before Portis scored six straight points – on a 3-pointer and a three-point play – to put the Bulls on top 101-100. A few minutes later, Portis dunked over Embiid to stretch the lead to 111-106 with just over four minutes to play.

LaVine hit a 3-pointer to make it 115-110 with 1:02 left.

TIP INS

76ers: C Embiid has nine straight double-doubles . Simmons has six triple-doubles this season, which ties him with Wilt Chamberlain (three times) and Billy Cunningham for most in a season in team history.

Bulls: To look at some younger players during the final 25 games, C Robin Lopez and G/F Justin Holiday were removed from the starting lineup. Both were inactive on Thursday as Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba (21 points) started; Also, Cameron Payne – who played in his first game on Thursday – will replace Jerian Grant as the backup point guard.

“It really is hard,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It’s hard for Robin, it’s hard for Justin and it’s hard for Jerian, who’s probably making as big a sacrifice as anybody.”

UP NEXT

76ers: Host Orlando on Saturday.

Bulls: Visit Minnesota Saturday night.

Kelly Oubre gets caught untying Rodney Hood’s shoes (VIDEO)

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The NBA seems to have a secret obsession with tying and untying shoes mid-game. J.R. Smith once got a warning for doing as much, finally earning himself a $50,000 fine after doing it multiple times. Likewise, other players like Rajon Rondo and Danny Green have pulled down the shorts of opponents while the clock was rolling.

Perhaps that emboldened Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre on Thursday night as his team took on the Cleveland Cavaliers in Ohio.

During the game, game operations crew at The Q ran a video on the big board that appeared to show Oubre untying the shoes of Cavaliers guard Rodney Hood.

Via Twitter:

These guys have so much to think about during a game I’m honestly impressed that they have the time to remember to do petty stuff like this.

I suppose it worked?

Oubre had 17 points off the bench, adding five rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Hood had just eight points in 27 minutes on the floor.

The Wizards beat the Cavaliers on the road, 110-103.

Report: Warriors will spend trip to D.C. with kids, not Trump

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Donald Trump decided to disinvite the Golden State Warriors to the White House despite team winning the 2017 NBA Championship. Many members of the Warriors have been critical of Trump during his short tenure in Washington D.C., which the former mail order steak salesman has not taken lightly.

With no invitation to the White House on hand, and considerable doubts that the team would go even if the opportunity resurfaced, the Warriors have decided to take a private tour around the nation’s capital instead.

According to a report from ESPN, the team will take a trip with just players, coaches, and some kids to a discreet location as part of a tour.

Via ESPN:

Head coach Steve Kerr left it up to the players to determine how they wanted to spend their time, and the players selected a venue in which local kids would join them. It will be closed off to the media, sources said.

The players wanted the outing to be a personal, intimate experience.

“It’s their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it’s up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans,” Kerr told ESPN. “I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they’re doing.”

Golden State will be in D.C. to play the Washington Wizards on February 28. They will reportedly take their trip — sure to be fun for the kids — the day before.

Meanwhile, you have to wonder if an NBA team will ever visit the White House while Trump lives there. People from LeBron James to Gregg Popovich have spoken out about their disagreements with him, and the Warriors were pretty vocal about not attending a ceremony with Trump.