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Recap: Hornets can’t hang on late and lose to Pacers, 116-111

LaMelo Ball was limited by foul trouble and the Hornets couldn’t follow up Friday’s win over the Bucks.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

PJ Washington scored 22 points to lead all five starters in double figures, but the Charlotte Hornets squandered a fourth quarter lead in a loss to the Indiana Pacers, 116-111.

After the teams traded three turnovers to start the game, Buddy Hield and PJ Washington exchanged layups to open the scoring. It proved to be a representative start of the game as both teams played at a frenetic pace that sometimes resulted in some sloppy basketball. The Hornets turned the ball over four times to almost match Friday’s entire tally within the first few minutes of the contest. Still, they got into the paint successfully and limited easy looks for the Pacers to help them to a 27-15 lead after one quarter. We got a highlight dunk from Dennis Smith Jr. in the latter portion of the quarter.

Mark Williams dropped in a pair of interior shots and drew an offensive foul on the other end as the Hornets looked poise to run away with the game. But LaMelo Ball got called for his third foul early in the quarter, and that seemed to derail the Hornets good vibes. He was called for the foul at the 9:21 mark of the second with the Hornets up 34-21. They went 2:51 without a bucket from that point and allowed 9 straight points to the Pacers. They ended up with only 18 points in the entire quarter and watched their 12 point lead turn into a two point deficit.

Ball was called for his fourth foul on the first Pacers possession of the second half even though he tried to avoid it. He made up for lost time with 3-pointers on the next two Hornets possessions to put the Hornets back on top. The teams went on to trade baskets for a significant chunk of the third quarter. The flipped when the Hornets scored ten straight to end the quarter, with the last five coming from Jalen McDaniels. The Pacers helped the cause by missing some bunnies on the other end. The Hornets led by six heading into the fourth.

LaMelo Ball took a dribble handoff from PJ Washington and hit a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter, which prompted Rick Carlisle to take a timeout just 14 seconds in. Cody Martin gave us one of his first trademark defensive plays since his return.

The Pacers crawled back into the game with offensive rebounds and interior baskets and tied the game with just under eight minutes to play. Ball got called for his fifth foul next time down the floor trying to get around a Jalen Smith screen. He had to leave the game, but the Hornets were able to hold their water this time thanks in large part to...Mason Plumlee. Myles Turner hit a pair of circus shots (by his standards) to help the Pacers keep pace. The teams traded haymakers with the game tied up, and that included this insane pass from Ball.

The Pacers got an and-1 from Myles Turner to answer. Ball was called for an offensive foul on the next possession for kicking his leg when shooting a 3-pointer. The Pacers got free throws from the call for some reason, and Buddy Hield hit one of the two attempts. Terry Rozier lost the ball on the next Hornets possession, and it became a free throw contest from there. The Pacers didn’t miss, the Hornets couldn’t get the 3-pointer they needed to give themselves a chance, and Myles Turner came up with a huge block on a Mason Plumlee dunk to put the Hornets away.

LaMelo Ball’s foul trouble limited his minutes and snapped his streak of 14 straight games with 20 points and two 3-pointers made. Jalen McDaniels, PJ Washington, and Mason Plumlee put in strong performances, but the Hornets guards struggled. Ball was efficient but was limited by the fouls that ultimately ended his night early. Rozier made just five of fifteen shots, turned the ball over seven times, and struggled to orchestrate the Hornets offense when Ball was on the sidelines.

The Hornets will head north of the border for back to back games against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday and Thursday.