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Recap: LaMelo Ball ejected as Hornets lose to Bulls, 114-98

A rough second half was capped off by Ball’s first career ejection.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball tallied 19 points, eight rebounds, and six assists before being tossed in the waning moments of the Charlotte Hornets 114-98 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Gordon Hayward opened the scoring with a smooth mid range pull up jumper. It started a first quarter that couldn’t have been more back-and-forth. The teams exchanged the lead nine times and threw in a few ties on top of that. The Hornets played well on both ends for most of the time—they moved the ball well on offense and generally made the Bulls work for decent looks on offense. Things started to go awry as the bench units filtered in. A handful of turnovers and missed shots allowed the Bulls to go on a 10-0 run. The Hornets responded with three late threes to pull within two heading into the second quarter.

The second quarter started with Mark Williams grabbing a Coby White shot attempt out of the air and then running the floor for a dunk on the other end. The Hornets rookie tallied seven points, three rebounds, and a block in the quarter. Andre Drummond, who was pretty well outplayed by Williams, found more success when Williams left the game. It was an old school second quarter that was played at a slow pace and featured only two made 3-pointers between the teams. It ended with a Mark Williams tap in with one second left to pull the Hornets to within four.

The Bulls blitzed the Hornets coming out of the break. The scored 10 straight to start the half, but it was quickly answered by a 7-0 solo run by Terry Rozier. The teams continued to trade mini-runs throughout the quarter with the Bulls slowly pulling away as the fourth quarter approached. By the time the third quarter ended, the Hornets trailed by 15.

LaMelo Ball made two straight baskets to start the fourth sandwiched around a Williams block of Drummond. The second of those buckets came while getting hit on the wrist without a call, which probably set the stage for what was to come later. But before that, Dennis Smith came out of nowhere with possibly the dunk of the season for the Hornets next time down.

The Hornets pulled as close as seven with around seven minutes to play and then again a few minutes later, but they couldn’t get over that hump.

Ayo Dosunmu tried to disrupt Ball by getting up in his shirt defensively, but Ball was able to drive around him without much effort. In the process, Dosunmu got away with some very physical play, and the relative lack of whistles visibly frustrated LaMelo. With about a minute and a half to play, Ball stole an inbound pass and went in for what was going to be an easy fast break layup. Zach LaVine hit him on the elbow and forced LaMelo to lose the ball.

Ball was given a technical foul for his initial reaction to the call then was given a second technical for harping on the issue with the officials. It’s the first ejection of his career. In all of that, the Bulls pulled away for a comfortable win.

Prior to his ejection, Ball had taken over the fourth quarter with 12 points. He was quiet during the middle two quarters, but he was very lively on both ends of the court in the first and last quarters. Terry Rozier led the team with 23 points and Mason Plumlee didn’t miss a shot for the second consecutive game against the Bulls.

Mark Williams finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks in just 17 minutes and was a +6 in a game the Hornets lost by 16 points.

The Hornets will head up to Detroit to take on a Pistons team that just got back after being stranded in a snowstorm in Dallas.