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Kris Dunn has his sights set on Lonzo Ball but for different reasons

LOS ANGELES — Lonzo Ball was in Kris Dunn’s crosshairs Tuesday night during the Bulls’ 103-94 loss to the Lakers.

Dunn’s mission statement was simple: Make life as difficult as possible for the Lakers’ much-hyped rookie point guard.

But unlike Patrick Beverley, John Wall and Damian Lillard, who went out of their way to shut down Ball and shut up his dad, LaVar, Dunn didn’t have an agenda.

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“Nah, I’m not some vet like those guys, so I can’t really have feelings like that,’’ Dunn said. “I’m still trying to prove myself, too. I mean, I’m going hard at him, but I’m going hard at everybody every night. That’s just how I play. It doesn’t matter who you are.’’

Or who your father is.

Dunn feels like he knows basketball dads, especially because he didn’t know his until he was almost 10. That’s why he can speak freely about how good a father he thinks LaVar actually is.

“I don’t think he’s even that hard on his kid,’’ Dunn said. “I mean, whenever his kid doesn’t have the game he thinks he could have, he still has his back. That’s only going to give your kid confidence. That shows him that no matter what’s going on, if you fall, your dad is going to be right there to pick you up. That should be the kind of father everybody wants when you’re competing.’’

Dunn’s relationship with his own father reads like a Hollywood script.

When Dunn was just 1, his mother, Pia, left Connecticut with Kris and his older brother, John, leaving their father, John Seldon, with no idea where they went. Seldon searched for years to find them, getting no help from the courts.

Meanwhile, Pia was in and out of trouble in Alexandria, Virginia, and finally incarcerated for a long spell when Dunn was 9. Afraid to let anyone know they were by themselves, Kris and his brother hustled to get food and pay rent. John won money with trick dice, and Kris would play local teenagers one-on-one for $20 a pop.

From prison, Pia reached out to Seldon and asked if he could help out, sending her older son to meet him. Seldon tracked John back to Alexandria and finally met his younger son.

John and Kris eventually moved in with their father and his new family, and Dunn said his life changed immediately.

“People say [LaVar] was tough — nah,’’ Dunn said. “My dad was tough. I wasn’t used to structure. I learned real quick.

“[Lonzo] doesn’t have the luxury of not being in the spotlight. His dad put that pressure on him.

‘‘My dad did the same thing when I was in high school and college. He wasn’t as vocal to the media and people off the court — I mean he wasn’t making a shoe for me — but for me, he was that kind of father. The kind that really pushed for your best. I needed that. That push makes you ready for anything.’’

Like finally being named the starting point guard before the game.

And Dunn had his moments against Ball. He scored 12 points and had six assists, compared to Ball’s eight points and four assists.

“I don’t go after guys for personal reasons like dads and stuff like that,’’ Dunn said. “I go at guys because they’re lined up against me.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com