Why did LaMelo Ball play 17 minutes? Coach makes blunt critique


Ball agrees he hit a bad patch.

“Last two games, I don’t think I’ve been doing real well,” said Ball, a 6-foot-7 point guard. “I’m going to try to amp it up a little next game.“

What’s wrong?

“Rushing a lot of stuff,” Ball replied.

Ball is a daring, imaginative passer who is taller than Charlotte’s other point-guard options, Devonte Graham and Terry Rozier (both 6-foot-1). The Hornets knew when they drafted Ball that he needed improvement as a jump-shooter and defender. He’s been a terrific rebounder (nearly seven per game) and is among rookie leaders in just about every statistical category.

“He had a stretch where he played extremely well. We need to find that again,” Borrego said. “He’s got to get better, bottom line. He’s engaged, he wants to get better. He’s capable of handling it.

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“Last night, poor decision-making [with the ball], and I think that affected him on the defensive end.”

There have been frequent calls among a faction of Hornets and Ball fans that he should already start ahead of either Graham or Rozier. Borrego has said that bringing Ball off the bench, for now, is best for both the team and Ball.

LaMelo’s father, LaVar Ball, said in a TMZ Sports interview on the weekend that LaMelo is unhappy with not starting, but doesn’t say so publicly.

“He ain’t happy with that, but he ain’t going to show that,” said LaVar, whose son Lonzo plays for the New Orleans Pelicans. “My boys are not freakin’ role players. They’re superstars! Let them do what they do.”

LaMelo Ball was asked if he was surprised not to be starting at this juncture of his rookie season.

“No. It’s basketball. It’s a whole chemistry thing,” he replied. “I’m coming in [off the bench]. It’s not something where I’ve been here four years, or something like that. It’s just basketball.”

MCT

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LaMelo Ball triple-double, Anthony Davis downs James Harden, Heat-Celtics postponed


LaMelo Ball has made history as the youngest player in the NBA to record a triple-double as the No. 3 Draft pick continues to make his mark.

Ball was in Australia last year to play in the NBL and showcased his all-round talents with a rare triple-double down here but he’s done it on the biggest stage possible.

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While the talk of the town in Australia last year was whether the NBL provided a good professional pathway for draftees, it clearly seems to have done the job.

Ball beat previous record holder Markelle Fultz by 177 but it could have been 179 days after he missed out on the milestone just two days ago in the win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

But playing the Atlanta Hawks, Ball hit 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists on Saturday night.

“A 19-year-old rookie does not look like this,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “This is rare what you’re seeing.

“He’s not rattled by the moment. It’s like he’s been doing this for a number of years.”

Ball said he was still trying to comprehend what he had done.

“I live my life and I know what I’m capable of, so stuff like doesn’t move me like that,” Ball said. “I know that’s supposed to happen.”

He also got plenty of praise from Atlanta star Trae Young who believes there’s a big future ahead of him.

“He’s a tall PG who can pass, can rebound and he’s a smart player,” Young said. “Things are going to become even easier for him in this league as he plays more and more games.”

NBA fans were going equally mad for LaMelo.

The Observer’s Charlotte Hornets beat writer Rick Bonnell said: “I thought through 30-some years of the NBA in Charlotte for a @MELOD1P comparison; the only @hornets rookie that feels similar in talent and impact: Larry Johnson.”

Johnson was a two-time NBA All-Star, 1992 Rookie of the Year and decade-long player in the NBA.

AD EXPLODES IN NBA BLOW OUT

Anthony Davis scored a game-high 27 points as the Los Angeles Lakers delivered a dominating all-around performance on Sunday with a crushing 120-102 defeat of the Houston Rockets in Texas.

The Lakers finally hit their stride in the new NBA season, running the Rockets ragged on offence and bottling up their top scorers on defence, especially three-time league scoring champion James Harden, who was held to 20 points and committed seven turnovers.

LeBron James scored 18 points as he and fellow all-star Davis had plenty of help from the bench.

Talen Horton-Tucker (17 points), Montrezl Harrell (16) and Kyle Kuzma (13) all came off the bench to reach double figures for the Lakers, who are now a perfect 5-0 on the road to start the season.

The defending NBA champions scored a whopping 32 fast break points and 62 points in the paint, finally looking like the juggernaut team that many had envisioned at the start of the season.

But where they really excelled Sunday was on defence, grabbing 39 defensive rebounds and forcing 13 steals.

“We’ve got to be a team who lead games with defence,” Davis said, who returned to the line-up Sunday after sitting out with a sore groin. “Tonight we made shots, but there are going to be nights when we don’t make shots and we can’t control that.

“What we can control is how we play defence. The coach came in at halftime and said our defensive effort was off the charts.”

With both James (ankle) and Davis nursing nagging injuries, getting 54 points from their bench and holding the Rockets to just 46 points in the first half is good sign for the future.

— AFP

COVID REARS ITS UGLY HEAD

It’s never too far from the spotlight but COVID-19 has reminded the NBA it will arguably be the biggest player in the 2020-21 season.

The Boston Celtics’ home game against the Miami Heat didn’t even get on court, the contest postponed because of COVID-19 safety measures.

Miami did not have the required number of available players to play the game while the Celtics were down to the NBA minimum of eight.

Also, Nikola Jokic posted another double-double by finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds for the visiting Denver Nuggets, who cruised to a 114-89 win over the New York Knicks.

— AFP



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Kawhi Leonard mask, slasher film, LaMelo Ball erupts, LeBron James birthday, record, Miami Heat bounce back from record loss


The LA Clippers have made sure the 51-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks was just a blip on the radar with a 23-point lead over the Portland Trail Blazers.

After going down by a record 50-points at halftime to the Mavericks on Tuesday AEDT before a won over the Minnesota Timberwolves yesterday, the Clippers made no mistake with superstar Kawhi Leonard returning, as the Clippers lead by 18 at the break, and won every quarter.

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But while the win returns the league to the status quo, fans were taken by Leonard’s new accessory as the star returned to the floor with a face mask.

Leonard missed the last two games after needing eight stitches following an accidental elbow to the face by teammate Serge Ibaka on Christmas Day.

He was left bloodied on the floor.

Post-match, Kawhi said the mask was uncomfortable on the floor.

And while the internet had a field day, the 29-year-old also had a laugh.

“S***, it’s hard to breathe in that mask,” he said post-game. “They started calling me Leatherface and stuff. Serge (Ibaka) can’t talk too much, we got him on the trading block right now, so whoever wants him let us know because we’re trying to trade Serge.”

The mask didn’t appear to affect him on the court however as he tallied 28 points, three rebounds and seven assists alongside Paul George’s 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists controlled the game.

But the fans couldn’t help but notice the similarity in the superstar’s mask and that of fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter among other jokes.

Complex’s Keith Nelson Jr. tweeted: “What … the f*** … is Kawhi wearing?”

And fans better get used to the new look with Leonard admitting he’ll be wearing the mask until the stitches in his jaw and lip heal.

He said he wouldn’t return until he could open his mouth and move his jaw again.

LAMELO’S EIGHT-YEAR FIRST AS TEMPERS ERUPT

LaMelo Ball may not have been the number one pick in the Draft but he’s certainly playing like he was.

After his scoreless debut, Ball became the first Charlotte Hornets rookie to record 15 points, five rebounds and five assists since Kemba Walker did it in 2012 as his side defeated the Mavericks 118-99.

Ball ended up with 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists, leading the way for his side on the scoresheet in 29 minutes.

It’s a big turnaround after he started with a scoreless debut in the NBA but has quickly settled in and found his groove.

He hit four from five from outside the three-point arc and seven from 10 from the floor.

But his performance was somewhat overshadowed as two players were ejected as James Johnson and Cody Martin had to be separated following a should and headbutt.

It saw both players sent from the court.

LEBRON’S LATEST NBA RECORD

LeBron James has celebrated his 36th birthday Wednesday with another NBA milestone, scoring double-digit points for the 1000th straight game in the Lakers’ 121-107 victory over the Spurs in San Antonio.

James finished with 26 points to extend his already record streak of double-digit games in the regular season.

He sealed the milestone midway through the second quarter with a turnaround jump hook that gave the Lakers a 46-37 lead.

“I just try to live in the moment and just try to continue to get better with my game, try to get better with my teammates and try to just maximise when I’m on the floor,” James said, who is in his 18th NBA campaign after leading the Lakers to the 2020 title in the league’s quarantine bubble in Orlando.

“I’ve been blessed to play the game that I love for 18 years and hopefully I can continue to play at a high level.”

James’ double-digit scoring streak began on January 6, 2007, when he was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“It’s a tribute to his tenacity level … his commitment to excellence,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game. “He deserves a lot of credit for being the consummate professional. His mental state along with his physical state really makes him really special.” Shortly after James reached the milestone, Popovich was ejected from the contest for arguing with officials.

Assistant Becky Hammon took over on the Spurs bench, becoming the first woman to direct a team in an NBA game.

Anthony Davis scored 20 points and pulled down nine rebounds for the Lakers, newcomer Dennis Schroder added 21 points and four assists.

AFP

HEAT BOUNCE BACK FROM BLOWOUT

The Miami Heat rebounded from an embarrassing 47-point loss to Milwaukee with a 119-108 NBA victory over the Bucks.

The Heat didn’t have to wait long for revenge as they hosted the Bucks for the second straight night.

Goran Dragic came off the bench to lead Miami with 26 points, Bam Adebayo added 22 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists and Tyler Herro scored 21 points with a career-best 15 rebounds as the Heat rallied to stave off another home defeat.

The Bucks had dominated on Tuesday with an NBA-record 29 three-pointers in their 144-97 triumph.

The Bucks, fuelled by a triple-double of 26 points 13 rebounds and 10 assists from two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, looked like making it two wins in a row when they led by 14 in the third quarter.

Donte DiVincenzo scored 15 points and Jrue Holiday added 13 for the Bucks, but the Heat rallied despite missing Jimmy Butler for the second straight game.

“You want to constantly develop some grit and toughness during the course of a long season, and our guys responded in an appropriate fashion,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who acknowledged before the game that there was “a lot of anger and frustration” after the blowout loss on Tuesday.

“As well there should have been,” he said.

AFP



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LaMelo Ball debut, Shaqtin a Fool, Charlotte Hornets, reaction, video


LaMelo Ball was the talk of the NBA world during pre-season action.

The number three draft pick was exhilarating, his flashy passes vaulted him into discussions of being one of the best passers in the game and some fans had him inked into their must watch players lists.

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But on Thursday, when the real action kicked off for the Charlotte Hornets, Ball was being talked about for all the wrong reasons.

Up against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team who finished last on the Eastern Conference standings last year with the second worst record in the league, the Hornets were brushed aside.

Ball wasn’t in the starting line-up, instead he came off the bench and played a grand total of 16 minutes while finishing with a dire stat line that read: 0 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 3 turnovers and 2 steals. He went 0-5 from the field which included missing all three attempts from beyond the arc.

His lacklustre NBA debut was made all the more embarrassing by one play in particular. With a little under five minutes to play in the third, LaMelo received the inbound pass before dribble past halfcourt only to stumble over his own feet and lose the ball.

He quickly hustled and got the ball back, only to slowly make his way toward the basket and completely forget about his defender behind him who stripped the ball away.

The play was so bad the Hornets youngster ended up being called out by Shaquille O’Neal and landing on the dreaded ‘Shaqtin a Fool’ list.

The scoreless debut also puts Ball into rarified air, seeing him join Otto Porter Jr., Hasheem Thabeet and Greg Oden as top three draft picks to not score in their debut game.

Making matters worse for Ball came during his post-game interview with reporters over Zoom when his call was hacked not once, but twice.

The Associated Press’ Tom Withers wrote: “Bizarre postgame last night as LaMelo Ball‘s Zoom call got hacked, twice. There was music, dancing, what sounded like someone speaking Japanese. Felt like I was in a Fellini film or something.”

Hornets teammate Gordon Hayward passed on some advice to Ball after the game to forget.

“I told him just to forget this one,” Hayward said per the Charlotte Observer. “Some days are diamonds, some days are stones.”

What makes Ball’s debut worse is the fact the guards in front of him for the Hornets erupted with Terry Rozier dropping a career-high 42 points while Devonte Graham finished with 10 points and 10 assists.

“LaMelo is not really known as a scorer, he’s known for play making. I don’t know how much play making with Graham playing the way he did and Rozier playing the way he does,” Fox’s Shannon Sharpe said on Undisputed.

“It’s the first game maybe he was anxious. It’s one game, but I’m going to need to see something moving forward, I can’t see a whole lot more zero point games and sit here and say it’s all good.”

Skip Bayless echoed Sharpe’s comments and said the youngster looked out of his depth during his debut.

“LaMelo doesn’t start and as you point out he plays a grand total of 16 minutes and while he was on the floor he looked lost to me. There were a lot of standing in the corner plays, where he’s like watching Terry Rozier,” Bayless said.

“They were playing him with Rozier and Devonte Graham and three guards. Well how much touch is he going to get? He’s got to be the orchestrator of the offense for his own offense and for the rest of the guys’ offense.

“I am the biggest Michael Jordan fan on the planet, but when it comes to running the franchise I am the least of the fans because this is horrendous what keeps happening here.”

Ball will get a chance to redeem himself when the Hornets take the court on Sunday in a contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder.



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Michael Jordan, Charlotte Hornets, Gordon Hayward, LaMelo Ball


Michael Jordan’s time as an NBA owner has been the exact opposite of his career as a player, but he remains capable of sending shockwaves through the league.

Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets have been perennial underachievers in his time in charge and are now betting their future on broken-down former All-Star Gordon Hayward after making the biggest move of day two of the NBA’s free agency period.

Per reports, the Hornets will pay the former Celtics small forward $120 million over the next four seasons after Hayward opted out of the final year of his contract in Boston.

The cost and length of the deal drew immediate backlash from NBA pundits, including Ryen Russillo who declared Charlotte “just signed one of the worst contracts of free agency”.

“Now to be fair. When you are a stale franchise that doesn’t attract players you have to do these things,” Russillo tweeted. “But 4yrs for a guy that can’t stay healthy …”

“Gordon Hayward and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, win the off-season. $120 million over four years? Unbelievable,” added Chris Mannix.

Hayward was hotly-pursued by Boston after emerging as an All-Star in Utah, but his time with the Celtics was a train wreck after he badly broke his ankle six minutes into his first game for his new team.

His recovery took years and was marked by several setbacks and even though his scoring average returned to more than 17 points per game last season the jury is still very much out on if he can become the player he once was.

That’s a bet Jordan, whose franchise will build its future around Hayward and number three draft pick LaMelo Ball, is willing to take.

It’s the second time in two years the Hornets have raided the Celtics, signing Terry Rozier to a three-year $57 million deal last season.

It was the Eastern Conference making moves early on Sunday morning, including the reigning champion Miami Heat.

The Heat added Lakers guard Avery Bradley, who did not play in the postseason after opting not to travel to the NBA’s bubble in Orlando for family reasons, on a two-year $11.6 million.

That saw Miami forward Jae Crowder accept a three-year $30 million deal in Phoenix, where he will join Chris Paul and Devin Booker.

Another Laker, Rajon Rondo, moved east to Atlanta on a two-year $15 million deal, a day after the Hawks added Thunder forward Danilo Gallanari for three years and $61.5 million.

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet also got paid, signing the largest contract in NBA history by a player that went undrafted. VanVleet will earn $85 million across the next four seasons.

Day one was headlined by Montrezl Harrell’s stunning move from the Clippers to the LA rival Lakers.



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Live updates, picks, draft order, LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Michael Jordan wish granted


The NBA Draft is underway, with America’s hottest basketball talent finding out where their new homes are.

There was no unanimous agreement over who would go No. 1 this year, unlike 2019 with Zion Williamson, and everyone was waiting to see what the top of the draftboard would look like.

Minnesota had first crack and selected Anthony Edwards from the University of Georgia. Golden State scooped up James Wiseman with the second pick and Charlotte selected LaMelo Ball third overall as he joins his brother Lonzo in the NBA.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, NBA legend and Hornets owner, Michael Jordan, gave his franchise the green light to recruit Ball and his wish was granted.

Ball spent last season honing his craft Down Under in the NBL and is now ready to graduate to the NBA.

DRAFT PICKS

1. Anthony Edwards (Minnesota Timberwolves)

2. James Wiseman (Golden State Warriors)

3. LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets)

4. Patrick Williams (Chicago Bulls)

5. Isaac Okoro (Cleveland Cavaliers)

6. Onyeka Okongwu (Atlanta Hawks)

7. Killian Hayes (Detroit Pistons)

8. Obi Toppin (New York Knicks)

9. Deni Avdija (Washington Wizards)

10. Jalen Smith (Phoenix Suns)

11. Devin Vassell (San Antonio Spurs)

12. Tyrese Haliburton (Sacramento Kings)



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LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton and Josh Green to feature highly


From a potential AFL career with the GWS Giants to the NBA draft and a chance of teaming up with fellow Australian Joe Ingles – Josh Green’s journey from Sydney schoolboy to the word’s best basketball league is almost complete.

Green is on track to be picked up in Thursday’s NBA draft, with the latest mock drafts having the guard going as the 23rd pick to the Utah Jazz, where he would join Boomers star Ingles.

There is also a belief, though, that he could land anywhere between picks 14 to 30.

He is anticipated to be a first-round pick after an impressive freshman college season with the Arizona Wildcats where he averaged 12.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

Since June, he has been training full time at IMPACT Basketball in Las Vegas under veteran NBA trainer Joe Abunassar.

Regardless of where he falls, there is no denying Green has the ability and finesse to excel with an NBA franchise.

The former King’s School student, who represented the NSW under 16 team at age 13 in 2004, is considered one of the best young ballers in America.

Green’s rapid rise in basketball is remarkable when you consider it was only five years ago when he accepted a development academy position with the Giants.

He had every intention of committing to Australian rules football, but he was forced to quit in 2014 when his family relocated to Phoenix for the children to focus on basketball.

Now Green has his sights set on joining fellow Australians like Ingles, Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova in the NBA.

His former Penrith and NSW Metro junior coach in the under 16s, Curtis Sardi, had no doubts the sharpshooter would fulfil his basketball dreams, even when the AFL was circling.

“I’ve known Josh since he was a baby, and he has played everything from soccer, basketball and AFL, and he always kept his options open around the 14 age group,” Sardi said.

“That is when he started to experiment with AFL, starting with the PSSA school system, and that is when the Giants moved in with some Academy stuff.

“Josh loved both basketball and AFL and couldn’t decide, but his dream was always to play in the NBA, and I think everything fell into place when he moved to America with his family.

“That is where he pursued basketball and one door after another kept opening for him.

“We all knew he was good enough to make it, he was one of the best players in the country at 14, but his rise to the NBA is a credit to who he is as a person. He has always been a hardworking kid that does extra training, so I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

NBL pathway players LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton are also set to leap from the Australian league to the big time with first-round selections.

Several mock drafts, including ESPN, are predicting Ball to be selected in the top three after he averaged 17.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists for the Illawarra Hawks last season and won the NBL’s Rookie of the Year award.

The highest drafted player from the NBL to the NBA is Chris Anstey, who was selected with the 18th pick in the 1997 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.

Anstey believes Ball and Hampton have helped put the Australian league on the global basketball map.

“I think what LaMelo and RJ have done is legitimise the NBL and shine a light for people not here in Australia about how good the league is,” Anstey said.

“We’ve seen the NBA take steps with developing G League teams to try and keep some of their best high school prospects who don’t go to college.

“The NBL has become a genuine threat and by having these high-level kids playing in Australia, more NBA scouts have their eye on our league.

“That gives other players around the league the opportunity to be seen, like Will Magnay at Brisbane.”

A host of other NBL players are draft eligible, including current Next Star Justinian Jessup (The Hawks), Kouat Noi (Cairns Taipans), John Mooney (Perth Wildcats), Sam Froling (The Hawks), Yanni Wetzell (South East Melbourne Phoenix) and Terry Armstrong, who was a Next Star with the Phoenix last season.

Anstey holds hope for any player to make the NBA, even if they don’t follow the traditional path.

“The one thing that I’ve always told people (is) that I’m naive enough to think you can go whatever pathway you want to make the NBA,” he said.

“Myself, CJ Bruton, Ben Pepper and Paul Rogers all got drafted out of the NBL back in 1997.

“We didn’t have to go to college to do that, and in more recent times Joe Ingles got picked up out of Europe and so did Dave Andersen.

“So, there are so many ways to get to the NBA.”



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