Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Saturday’s home game vs. Detroit Pistons

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Saturday’s 107-94 Hornets’ home win over the Detroit Pistons that improved Charlotte to 31-32 overall:

LaMelo Ball entering the Spectrum Center on Saturday hours before playing in his first game since March 20. [@hornets twitter photo]
… It didn’t take long for LaMelo Ball to make the kind impact he had made earlier this season for the Hornets as the rookie had seven points, five rebounds and five assists in 16 minutes in the first half and finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and two blocked shots in 28 minutes in his first game since March 20. “He’s given us great pace all year,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “They love playing with Melo. You could feel it.”

… The highlight-reel play most will remember was a long underhand pass to Bridges for an assist in the first half. Borrego, a longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant before coming to Charlotte, said he doesn’t teach that pass but compared Ball’s passing creativity to that of former Spurs All-Star guard Manu Ginobili.

… Terry Rozier (29 points, seven rebounds, four assists), Miles Bridges (27 points, seven rebounds, four assists) and P.J. Washington (16 points, eight rebounds, two assists) led the Hornets. And Malik Monk, playing for the first time since April 1, had 11 poitns, two rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes off the bench.

… Borrego had anticipated brining Devonte’ Graham off the bench, but Graham was a late scratch with a right knee contusion. “He’s a plus every single night for us, whether he starts or comes off the bench,” Borrego said of Graham, who is averaging 14.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 50 games (44 starts) this season.

… Frank Jackson had 25 points and six 3-pointers and Saddiq Bey 22 points and five 3-pointers to lead Detroit (19-45).

… Though Ball has missed 21 games this season, Borrego says he thinks Ball has already proved himself to be worthy of being voting NBA Rookie of the Year at season’s end. “LaMelo is deserving of that and I’m glad and I’m thankful that he gets to continue that season in the stretch run,” Borrego said. “LaMelo’s had a major impact on our winning this season. For a young guy to put up those numbers, but to do it with the sort of winning impact is significant for us. To me, I think he’s clearly the Rookie of the Year and I think he’ll prove that over these next 10 games as well, but I think he’s already done enough to get there.”

… Ball said he was more than ready to get back on the court. “Every day I wake up, the wrist is feeling better,” Ball said. “It was a blessing. It felt good to be back out there again.”

… Charlotte beat Detroit for the 12th straight time. That includes 10 straight wins with Borrego as coach and the streak is the second-longest in franchise history over another team; Charlotte once beat the Orlando Magic 13 straight times.


What’s next: The Hornets host the Miami Heat at 8 p.m. on Sunday. “Tomorrow is really the game where we want to make a statement,” Bridges said of the Sunday game. “They’re in a back-to-back too so there’s no excuses.”