Hornets beginners ran to the Staples Center and heard everything from polite silence (for Mason Plume) to half-hearted exclamations (for Gordan Hayward) on Monday night, but there was one Charlotte player who was greeted much warmer. LaMelo Ball’s performance before Monday’s game against the Lakers drew positive reviews from fans, even those wearing purple and gold clothing. Lakers owner Jeanie Bass even applauded the former Chino Hills High star.
After losing to the Clippers one night, Ball made his second triple-double of his career on Monday, scoring 25 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists against the Lakers. But that effort was not enough to stop Charlotte’s losing streak, which stretched to five after the Lakers (6-5) survived to win 126-123 in extra time.
Playing in a row against the Clippers and Lakers at the Staples Center was Ball’s first performance in front of his hometown fans as a pro. After leaving the Chino Hills native’s return locations empty last year due to the pandemic, fans were eagerly awaiting their beloved son’s home.
Among the many sold-out Lakers jerseys, a handful of fans sported Charlotte’s turquoise No. 2 jersey. The fan outside the center court wore a white and green # 1 Chino Hills jersey.
Ball first wore this jersey as a 13-year-old freshman 5’10 with chipped teeth who skipped class to play with his older brothers in high school. He returned to the Staples Center at 6’7 ” and weighing 180 pounds with tattoos on his forearms and chest. The 20-year-old played professionally in two other countries before becoming the NBA’s Rookie of the Year last season.
According to Lakers coach Frank Vogel, this is just the beginning for Ball, who not only has the potential for an All-Star Game, but is also rapidly moving towards differences in talent across generations.
“He has a very unique flair for his game,” Vogel said before the game, “confidence in how he distributes basketball. [He] makes his teammates better, carries the threat of flaring up from around the perimeter, and he really has it all. “
Less than three weeks after the start of his second season in the NBA, Ball is keeping up with his rookies. He averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists last season. Rebounds and assists this season are 5.8 and 6.6 respectively, and performance is gaining 20 points per game.
After charming the league with his flamboyant passes and athletic dunks as a rookie, Ball is now challenged to maintain his successful trajectory.
“He can swing the fence in any possession, but I sometimes need him to just take the serve, just take it,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said ahead of Monday’s game. “A lot of the veteran point guards we see in this league today didn’t come here with that mentality. Over time, this mentality is assimilated – which wins in this league. “
Borrego said he believed Ball “took a step forward as a pro tonight” during Monday’s game, showing his resilience in his second straight game tonight.
Ball scored 21 points against the Clippers but had eight of 19 shots with seven rebounds, three assists and five fouls. He posted two of six shots from the field in the second half with four points, while the Clippers went 22-0 in the fourth quarter.
Less than 24 hours later, Ball helped organize a 14-point comeback in the second half, pushing the Lakers into overtime. He scored nine points in the second half, including five straight free throws after the Lakers suffered delayed play and consecutive technical fouls. He had 11 rebounds in the second half and in overtime.
“He’s special,” said Hornets guard Terry Rosier. “I looked and saw all the rebounds and assists – it’s just crazy how he affects the game. He will become special if he continues to study the game. I think there is no limit for him. “
Everything about the Lakers, all the time.
Get all the Lakers news you need in Dan Voyck’s Weekly Newsletter.
From time to time, you may receive promotional material from the Los Angeles Times.
If Ball didn’t get enough attention on Monday with his orange highlighter heels, he felt his presence early with a corner three as he left his arm outstretched in the air for extra flourishing. Having scored another three-pointer in the first quarter, Ball looked towards Charlotte’s bench and, pulling a page out of Carmelo Anthony’s Lakers book, punched himself in the temple with three fingers.
But the Lakers veteran won the match against Melos. Anthony scored 29 points from the bench, scoring seven out of 10 three-pointers, and each long ball drew louder and louder applause from the fans. His last match at the two-minute mark in extra time put the Lakers ahead for the last time.
As purple and gold ribbons fell from the rafters after the Lakers win, Ball shook hands with all the Lakers players, but lingered for an extra moment next to Anthony. The 19-year-old veteran hugged a two-year-old dynamo.