Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Saturday night’s game vs. Milwaukee Bucks

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Saturday’s 126-114 Charlotte Hornets’ home win over the Milwaukee Bucks that improved Charlotte to 9-11 overall:

… Rookie LaMelo Ball’s impact on Saturday was hard to deny. Not only was Charlotte an amazing plus-37 when Ball was on the court, but the 19-year-old rookie had career-highs in points (27 points), minutes played (31) and free throws (9) with five rebounds, nine assists and only one turnover. “He’s fearless, he’s aggressive, he’s making plays for others,” Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego said. “It’s infectious. The guys love playing with him.”

… Could Ball be joining the starting lineup? With an ankle injury just before halftime preventing guard Terry Rozier from playing in the second half, Ball started with guard Devonte’ Graham, forwards Gordon Hayward and P.J. Washington and center Cody Zeller. “Let’s see where Terry is first,” Borrego said when asked that question.

… Ball’s fellow off-the-bench running mate Miles Bridges was a plus-25 for Charlotte while getting 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. Gordon Hayward had 27 points, Malik Monk 18, Rozier and Graham 12 apiece and Zeller seven with 15 rebounds.

… The high-scoring Bucks scored the first 10 points of the game before Charlotte responded with a 41-11 surge to give the Hornets a game-high 20-point lead (51-31) with 10:18 left in the second quarter. Milwaukee’s lowest-scoring quarter was 20 points in the fourth quarter when the Bucks made only one field goal in the final 7 1-2 minutes. “I challenged them in the huddle before the quarter started to have their best defensive quarter of the game,” Borrego said.

… A 9-11 after 20 games, the Hornets are off to one of the better 20-game starts in the team’s 31-year history. Charlotte had had a winning record after 20 games in nine seasons; The best starts were 13-7 in the 1997-98 and 1999-2000 seasons.

… Charlotte won in spite of two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo racking up 34 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists.

What’s next: Charlotte meets Southeast division rival Miami for the first time in a 7:30 p.m. game on Monday.