In the process of handing the San Antonio Spurs their 14th-straight loss, LaMelo Ball notched his ninth-career triple-double as the Charlotte Hornets collected a 120-110 victory to coast into the All-Star break on a high note.
Ball finished with 28 points, a season-high 12 rebounds and 10 assists to lead Charlotte (17-43). PJ Washington turned in 22 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 4-8 from deep. Gordon Hayward put up 16 points and five rebounds and Dennis Smith Jr. posted 10 points, five rebounds, nine assists and three steals. Mark Williams had 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for his third-career double-double. Svi Mykhailiuk tallied 12 points in his Hornets debut Bryce McGowens scored 11 points.
Malaki Branham led San Antonio (14-45) with 23 points and six rebounds. Keldon Johnson logged 21 points and eight rebounds. Doug McDermott contributed 17 points. Zach Collins put up 14 points and 12 boards.
When he grabbed his first rebound of the game, Ball became the second-youngest player in NBA history after LeBron James to reach 1,000 career points, rebounds and assists. Decent company.
With his 1st rebound tonight, @hornets guard LaMelo Ball became the second youngest player in @NBA history (21 years, 177 days) to total 1K points, 1K rebounds and 1K assists behind only LeBron James #letsfly— Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) February 16, 2023
Charlotte committed five early turnovers, leading to an 18-10 lead for the Spurs by the first timeout break. The Hornets had cut the deficit to two by the time Mykhailiuk checked in for his debut, and Melo was already up to 6/4/4 to put himself on very early triple-double watch. After making seven straight field goals as a part of a 24-24 to close the first, the Hornets had tied it up, 32-32.
ART @MELOD1P | #LetsFly pic.twitter.com/a2Z88V095b— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) February 16, 2023
Mykhailiuk wasted no time getting buckets in his first stint with the Hornets. He connected on a lob with Ball for his first bucket and drew a foul on a drive soon after. Ball had racked up 10/8/8 by the time he hit the bench in the second, and the Hornets clung to a small lead while he sat before checking back in with just under four minutes to go. Branham got into a rhythm late in the half to lead San Antonio. Off a Smith offensive rebound, McGowens got the shooter’s roll on a corner three with 8.5 seconds left to give Charlotte a 60-57 lead at halftime. Ball had 10/9/8 at the break.
MCGOWENS ON ONE @BryceMcgowens5 | @drpepper pic.twitter.com/7wZDW2DT3I— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) February 16, 2023
The Hornets got out to a 10-point stiff arm by the nine minute mark, but the Spurs punched back with an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to two, 72-70. Evenly-distributed scoring lengthened the Hornets’ lead beyond double digits midway thru the quarter, and despite a late push from San Antonio, Charlotte was in control by the end of the third. After three, the Hornets led 93-86.
McDermott, a known Hornets killer, canned a couple triples early in the fourth as the Spurs refused to go away. Mykhailiuk canned a corner trey to make it 108-102 with 5:06 left, and just moments after Ball recorded the triple-double, he sank a clutch three of his own. In what’s become a common theme in the last few games, Williams came up with a clutch defensive sequence, this time blocking a corner three into the fifth row with his forearm. Washington slammed home a putback dunk, Hayward sank a free throw and the Hornets defense stepped up and took care of business in crunch time to earn a 120-110 victory.
BIG MARK! ️#LetsFly pic.twitter.com/AYXnezLrzZ— Bally Sports: Hornets (@HornetsOnBally) February 16, 2023
Seven Hornets scored in double-figures, they shot 40 percent (14-35) from beyond the arc as a team and held the Spurs to 38.3 percent from the floor. Melo triple-double, Mark double-double and a PJ 20/10 game. Not a bad way to round out the pre-All-Star break schedule.
- LaMelo and Mark have already developed palpable chemistry in the pick-and-roll. It’s going to be so fun to see how much more daring Melo gets with his passes and lobs now that he’s got established chemistry with a such big, athletic target.
- Great effort from DSJ and Bryce McGowens in Terry Rozier’s absence tonight. Double-figure scoring for both and DSJ had three steals — if he hadn’t missed time with an ankle injury and played more minutes, he’d be up for consideration for an All-Defense selection.
- It feels like the Hornets are all but locked into the fourth-best lottery odds. They’re comfortably better than the Spurs, who themselves are much better than Detroit or Houston, and Orlando has separated from the pack. The fourth-best odds are fine, too; only 1.5 percent less likely to land first overall than the top-three with a 35.6 percent chance to pick between two and four. Plus, the Hornets have gotten lucky before, remember?
The Hornets are off for nine days until they face the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road on Feb. 24. Enjoy the All-Star break, folks!