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Recap: LaMelo Ball scores his first points as a Hornet, but the Hornets lose, 112-109

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The Hornets lost the game, but that’s not what’s important right now.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball opened his scoring as a Hornet with 12 points, joining five other Hornets in double figures, but the Charlotte Hornets lost their second straight to the Toronto Raptors, 112-109.

Devonte’ Graham opened the scoring with a nice cut down the lane for an easy layup off a feed from Cody Zeller. The turnover problems from Saturday’s game reared their heads again as the Hornets turned the ball over three times in the first couple minutes of the game. However, the Hornets continued playing with the fast pace that’s been preached all offseason. Their defense on the other end was well connected and made it very hard for the Raptors to generate generate good looks at the basket. LaMelo Ball knocked down his first bucket as a Hornet on a 3-pointer off a ball fake.

LaMelo followed the bucket with a number of terrific passes that won’t show up on the box score but generated easy looks for the Hornets offense. After one, the Hornets led 30-22.

The Hornets carried their defensive momentum into the second quarter, where they forced a number of Raptors turnovers. Jalen McDaniels got hot and hit a couple shots that led to his team leading 12 points by halftime. We got another Ball to Bridges highlight a short time later.

Fred VanVleet splashed several 3-pointers to wake up the Raptors offense, but Terry Rozier answered with eight straight points of his own. Fred VanVleet knocked down a double clutch 3-pointer off an errant PJ Washington pass to end the half, but the Hornets still held a 60-57 lead.

Devonte’ Graham opened the second half scoring with a nice floater that he’s apparently been working on quite a bit over the offseason. The teams traded a lot of baskets with nothing particularly noteworthy happening. LaMelo did splash a second 3-pointer, and the Hornets led when the deep bench started rotating in. We’ll call that a win.

The Hornets kept some of their core in into the fourth quarter and got some preseason minutes for Malik Monk. He looked very rusty early on and badly airballed his first shot attempt. The intensity of the game dropped quite a bit as the teams clearly lost some of their edge. The Hornets turnovers popped up again as the game as a whole got very sloppy. The Raptors reserves went on a run to build a lead that eventually reached double figures. Ball hit a free throw to reach double figures for the first time in his preseason career. In the end, the Raptors reserves beat the Hornets reserves.

It was good to see Ball get on the score sheet for the first time in his career. The other new acquisition, Gordon Hayward, put up an effortless 14 points, six assists, and four rebounds. Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier picked up where they left off last year, combining for 28 points. PJ Washington didn’t shoot the ball well, but he played excellent defense and stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks. Miles Bridges once again brought a ton of energy and has been one of the more impressive players through two games. Jalen McDaniels tied for the team lead in scoring with 15.

The Hornets will look to notch their first preseason win on Thursday against the Magic.