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LaMelo Ball 2021 shines in Lakers showdown. but only to a degree

LaMelo Ball 2021  shines in Lakers showdown. but only to a degree

LaMelo Ball 2021 shines in Lakers showdown. but only to a degree

LaMelo Ball LaMelo Ball Lakers a in only to showdown, shines but degree

Fri, 19 Mar 2021 08:00:00 -0700

Strong drives to the basket

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A pull-up, one-legged fadeaway jumper for a basket over LeBron James

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Nifty passes across the court

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A key three-pointer that cut 

LaMelo Ball, the 19-year-old Charlotte Hornets point guard from Chino Hills, flashed the skill against the Lakers on Thursday night at Staples Center that has many considering him the front-runner for rookie of the year.

Strong drives to the basket.

A pull-up, one-legged fadeaway jumper for a basket over LeBron James.

Nifty passes across the court.

A key three-pointer that cut Charlotte’s deficit to one point, 86-85, with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter during his outstanding play in the second half.

👀👀👀

One leg step back over LeBron! @MELOD1P | @hornets | #AllFly pic.twitter.com/Fuwvf5qscF

Nice dime for the JAM 🤩 @MELOD1P | @Bismackbiyombo | @HornetsOnFSSE pic.twitter.com/6DDkVqKljZ

Then the Lakers went on a 10-0 run thanks to back-to-back baskets by Markieff Morris to reclaim control of the contest on the way to a 116-105 win.

That’s when Ball’s plus-minus rating plummeted to minus-15, tied for worst with fellow Hornets starters Terry Rozier and Cody Zeller.

“Definitely felt good playing out here,” Ball said while wearing a Dodgers cap in his videoconference.

“It felt good, but not too good because we didn’t get the win.

The whole team knows we can compete.

We all know what we can do.

It’s just about putting it together and playing hard.”

Ball had only six points on two-of-eight shooting from the field in the first half, missing both of his three-pointers.

He had four rebounds and two assists.

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“You could feel his excitement early,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said of Ball after the game.

“He wanted to play well and prove that he belongs in this league.

I think he was a little anxious at first, but he settled down and slowed down.

I thought he was fantastic down the stretch.

I liked his fight and his competitive spirit.”

Ball made eight of 10 shots in the second half, sinking two of his three long-range shots.

He finished with 26 points, seven assists, five rebounds, one steal and a game-high six turnovers.

“I think he’s damn good to be his age,“ James said of Ball.

“His speed, his quickness, his ability to make shots at all facets in the paint, floaters, threes, and he’s going to only get better.

Every game is a learning experience for him.

Him and Zo are two just very unique players in our league, and they showcase that every night.”

WE GOT A TIE BALLGAME! @MELOD1P | @hornets | #AllFly pic.twitter.com/oYG0qXDTpB

It was only five years ago that Ball joined his older brothers Lonzo and LiAngelo in winning the state championship during a 35-0 season at Chino Hills High as a freshman.

The rest of the story has become lore — his father, LaVar, pulling him out of high school after sophomore season to begin a globe-trotting tour over the next three years.

It began with a handful of games on a pro team in Lithuania, to a season at a private prep school in Ohio, to an impressive 12-game run in Australia’s pro league that helped him leap up the draft charts.

Highlights from the Lakers’ 116-105 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on March 18, 2021, at Staples Center.

Ball was eventually taken No.

3 overall by Charlotte in the NBA draft last fall.

He is on track to be one of five rookies to average 15 points, six rebounds and six assists — a group that includes Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Ben Simmons and Michael Carter-Williams.

Ball leads rookies in assists and rebounds, and he is behind No.

1 overall pick Anthony Edwards of Minnesota for the most points among first-year players.

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LaMelo Ball LaMelo Ball

Fri, 19 Mar 2021 08:00:00 -0700

LaMelo Ball scored 26 and impressed LeBron James Thursday night, but the Lakers star scored 37 and his team picked up the win

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The NBA season is into its second half, and we will be here each weekday with the NBC Sports daily roundup Three Things to Know — everything you might have missed in the Association, every key moment from the night before in one place.

Like nearly everyone who has watched LaMelo Ball during his rookie season — especially his 20 games as a Hornets’ starter where he has averaged 19.8 points and 6.4 assists a game — LeBron James was impressed with the baby Ball brother.

“He’s damn good to be his age,” LeBron said postgame after LaMelo scored 26 on the Lakers Thursday night.

“His speed, his quickness, his ability to make shots at all facets, in the paint, floaters, threes — he has the three tiers already.

And he’s only going to get better, every game is a learning experience for him, he’s going to get better as the season goes on and his career goes on.”

LeBron wasn’t the only Laker impressed.

So Impressed watching @MELOD1P tonight..

Charlotte got a franchise changer in this kid!

— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) March 19, 2021

LeBron and the Lakers also got what they came for Thursday — the win.

Los Angeles built an 18 point lead behind 37 points from LeBron, but more importantly, the Lakers defense was back to shutdown mode for stretches of the game, getting in passing lanes and disrupting the Hornet offense.

That the Lakers did this without their best defender in Anthony Davis — still out for a couple of weeks with a strained calf — is impressive.

However, without him, the defense wasn’t consistent all night — Charlotte made a comeback behind LaMelo to make it a little interesting late.

LeBron eventually shut the door and got some help from Dennis Schroder, who added 22.

Los Angeles is 4-0 since the All-Star break with a top-five offense and defense in the league during that stretch.

The Lakers’ win, combined with a Phoenix loss (to Minnesota, keep on reading for more), puts Los Angeles back up to the two seed in the West, just 1.5 games back of Utah (which is slumping and lost to the Wizards Thursday).

This is what Minnesota hoped it would look like when it drafted Anthony Edwards No.

1.

Edwards has found a groove since the All-Star break — scoring 30.6 points a game and shooting 39.1% from three in that stretch — and the confidence he has always had in his game is starting to reward him.

Maybe some of those pull-up threes Thursday night would not have been new coach Chris Finch’s first choice, but they were going in.

Edwards became the third-youngest player in NBA history with a 40-point game, trailing only LeBron and Kevin Durant.

Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns know how to get buckets — Towns had 41 on the night — and the Timberwolves’ offense overwhelmed the Suns, getting Minnesota a quality 123-119 win against a playoff-bound Phoenix team.

The fact that it was a four-point game speaks to the Achilles heel of Edwards, Towns and the Timberwolves — a bottom-five defense.

But on nights like this, Edwards and the offense can help you overlook that issue for a while.

The Atlanta Hawks picked up their seventh straight win Thursday night, knocking off the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-93 behind 23 apiece from Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

That was not the most important thing the Hawks did Thursday.

The game came in third on that ranking.

Before the game, the Hawks had a moment of silence for the shooting victims at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area.

The team also released a statement condemning the violence.

Hawks have a moment of silence for the eight victims of Tuesday's shootings in the Atlanta area pic.twitter.com/lSqSeXyCRl

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 19, 2021

After the game, 14 Hawks players — and 22 other members of the team’s basketball operations staff — received their first shot of the coronavirus vaccine.

https://t.co/HfjUtVB2uX pic.twitter.com/91Yd77VZHz

— Atlanta HaWWWWWWWks (@ATLHawks) March 19, 2021

The 14 players were eligible to get the vaccine because they met Georgia’s standard that anyone with a body mass index over 25 is eligible.

The team released this statement:

“Increasing access to health, wellness and play throughout the greater Atlanta community continues to be a priority for our organization.

As eligibility for vaccination continues to expand, we intend to use our platform and influence to encourage and educate citizens on the importance of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible, especially younger adults and communities of color.”

The last part of that is something the NBA has encouraged — it wants its players and teams to be examples to the community of the importance of getting the vaccine.

Overall, players in the league have been hesitant to play that role and many have wanted to keep their decisions private.

That said, there are motivations for players to get the vaccine.

Players and teams who do get vaccinated will not only not miss games for things such as contact tracing, they will have more freedoms at home and on the road, such as having more guests in their hotel room or being able to go out and eat at restaurants with outdoor dining.

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– March 19, 2021

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