Heading into Thursday’s contest against the Los Angeles Lakers and playing in his hometown for the first time as a pro, Charlotte Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball indicated it wasn’t a big deal to face one of the best players ever to lace up sneakers in LeBron James.
For James, who takes the tiniest of slights personally, the disrespect was real. However, James let Ball know with his play, pouring in 22 of his game-high 37 points in the first half as the Lakers handled the Hornets 116-105 at Staples Center.
The win was L.A.’s fourth straight, as the Lakers improved to 28-13 on the year, while the Hornets dropped back to the .500 mark at 20-20 on the season.
Ball, 19, played well in his first game back in Los Angeles, finishing with a team-high 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds -- and six turnovers.
Top player: Dennis Schröder totaled 22 points, seven assists and four rebounds. Kyle Kuzma also had a good shooting night, making 4 of 10 from the 3-point line and finishing with 12 points.
What I liked: The Lakers forced 19 Charlotte turnovers and outrebounded the Hornets 54-48.
What I didn’t like: Leading by as many as 18 points, the Lakers allowed Charlotte to outscore them 33-23 in the third quarter to make it a game.
Injuries: Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said center Marc Gasol and Kosta Antetokounmpo are both cleared to come out of isolation but remain in the NBA’s health and safety protocol and were not available to play against the Hornets. But Alex Caruso cleared the league’s concussion protocol and was available to play against Charlotte. Caruso finished with five points and five rebounds in 24 minutes.
They said it: “Just growing up, having my pops having me play up. I got to see stuff at a young age, so I guess I just have always seen passing lanes and certain stuff that I’ve always seen at a young age.” – Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball on why he’s always been a good passer.