|Rookies look to bounce back for Lakers, Suns|
PHOENIX -- High draft picks Lonzo Ball and Josh Jackson will begin what could become a beautiful rivalry Friday while hoping to flush the detritus of their pro debuts.
Ball's Los Angeles Lakers and Jackson's Phoenix Suns will meet for the first time in their four-game season series at Talking Stick Arena, and they appear likely to be adversaries for years to come.
Ball was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, a point guard taken by a point guard -- Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, who traded another point guard (D'Angelo Russell) to create space for Ball.
Jackson, a small forward, was the fourth player taken. The Suns are so enamored of him that they did not engage when the Cleveland Cavaliers asked about him as a possible piece in a potential Kyrie Irving trade last summer, according to reports.
"He has that aggressive mindset to take on any challenge. He wants it," Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said of Jackson.
The Suns can only improve from the mess that was their home opener, a 124-76 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, the worst loss in franchise history and the worst opening-day loss in NBA history.
"We just got our (butts) kicked from beginning to end," Phoenix guard Devin Booker said.
The Suns shot 31.5 percent from the field and were outrebounded 57-33.
"Embarrassed is more the word," Suns coach Earl Watson said.
Jackson had 11 points, two rebounds and an assist while starting on a front line that included two small forwards -- Jackson and TJ Warren. Jackson made 1 of 2 3-point attempts in 32 minutes.
Ball had three points (on his lone basket, a 3-pointer), nine rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes in his NBA debut Thursday, a 108-92 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. He was held out of the last four preseasons games because of an ankle injury he sustained Oct. 2 before scrimmaging for the first time again Tuesday.
"He made the right pass eight, nine times," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "We missed layups. We missed open threes. That's not on Zo."
While the Suns made few roster moves in the offseason, the Lakers reshuffled around Ball. They traded Russell, who was the second overall pick in the 2015 draft, among others and added veterans Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The Lakers also made sure to maintain enough cap room for next year to be able to afford potential free agents such as LeBron James or Paul George, whose contracts expire after this season.
"We got blown out, so I didn't play too well," said Ball, who also was heckled and hectored by Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, a top defender.
Watson, who also attended UCLA and runs youth teams in Los Angeles, goes back a long way with the Ball family.
"I saw Lonzo first play in the eighth grade," Watson said. "I saw Lonzo run the point guard position and the fastbreak better than anyone I've ever seen at his age. I tried to recruit him to my travel team. It didn't work. (Ball's father) LaVar wanted to coach. We don't have parents coach, so it was non-negotiable."
Of Jackson, Watson said: "We know he's a rebounder. We know he runs the court, multi-talented, very quick. His shot is progressing quicker that we thought it would. We also know in transition, he needs opportunity and experience to read the floor.
"He's going to make some mistakes, but he's always making an aggressive mistake. What I don't want to see happen is for him to start thinking the game too much. That's where he makes most of his turnovers, he overthinks the game."
Lopez scored 20 points against the Clippers and power forward Larry Nance Jr. had 14 while starting ahead of Julius Randle.
Caldwell-Pope will miss his second straight game Friday while sitting out a two-game suspension imposed by the league for being arrested and pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated.
Suns reserve center Alex Len did not play in the opener because of a tender left ankle. He is day-to-day. Phoenix guard Eric Bledsoe, who shot 8 of 35 from the field in preseason, made 5 of 18 field-goal attempts and led the team with 15 points against Portland. Booker had 12 points on 6-of-17 shooting.