Ball bros. recall home duels ahead of 1st 'real' tilt

6:09 PM ET

Andrew LopezESPN

For the first time in their lives, Lonzo and LaMelo Ball will be going at each other in a regulation basketball game.

The two Ball brothers, three years apart, have never faced each other outside pickup games and duels in the Ball backyard. Friday night’s contest between Lonzo’s New Orleans Pelicans and LaMelo’s Charlotte Hornets will be meaningful to both.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Lonzo said on Thursday. “This is our first time matching up in a real game. … I think it just shows that all the hard work paid off. We’re really close, we grew up together doing the same thing even though he’s younger than I am.”

Both brothers talked about the backyard games growing up. Lonzo said he was always too big to play LaMelo one-on-one, but there were a lot of 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 games. He said LaMelo had to play against bigger competition all his life so that has entered his game today — he isn’t afraid of any opponent.

LaMelo said “nobody took it easy” on him in the backyard.

“That’s probably the most competitive basketball I’ve been

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