The hype around the game between the two brothers has been brewing since LaMelo was drafted by the Hornets, but to them, the matchup on Friday is just another game. The two brothers each spoke with the media on Thursday and both of them mostly downplayed the first meeting set to take place in New Orleans.
“I’m just taking it like another game,” LaMelo said. “I don’t really get into 1-on-1 matchups like that so I’m pretty much just trying to get the win. If anyone is feeling something, I feel like it’s probably going to be my family. They are probably going to be the ones getting all of the joy out of it. Me and him are probably going out there and both trying to get a win for our teams.”
Of course, the Ball brothers, who are separated by just under four years, were teammates at Chino Hills High School when Lonzo was a senior and LaMelo a freshman. They went a perfect 35-0 that year and claimed the California State Championship, but have never faced each other in a competitive game.
Lonzo went on to play one year at UCLA while LaMelo made a couple of stops abroad, including last year with the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League. Lonzo was selected with the second overall pick in 2017 by the Los Angeles Lakers and LaMelo was the third pick this year.
They became the first siblings to be picked in the top three of the NBA draft, something that was years in the making.
“I think it just shows that all of our hard work paid off,” Lonzo said. “We were really close. We grew up together doing the same thing, even though he is a lot younger than I am. It’s a good thing to see all of the hard work pay off that my dad put in with us, my family.”
On the season, Lonzo is averaging a career-high 13.4 points with the Pelicans. Meanwhile, LaMelo is averaging 12.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists with the Hornets, leading all rookies in assists and steals while he is second in scoring.
While the friendship and bond Lonzo and LaMelo have developed over the years remains strong, that figures to disappear once the two teams meet. Lonzo previously said that if he is matched up with LaMelo, it won’t be a good night for him but he wouldn’t divulge if he will guard his brother during the game.
“I just play my game,” Lonzo said. “Whoever Coach puts me on, I’ll do the best I can to get stops for my team and push the break the other way.”
The Hornets and Pelicans tipoff Friday at 7:30 p.m. EST on ESPN.
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