Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball has been voted NBA Rookie of the Year.

The 19-year-old seemed to have locked up the honour early with a stellar first three months in his maiden campaign, but a mid-season injury added some suspense. 

As Ball missed five weeks in March and April with a fractured list, top draft pick Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves began to heat up. 

But Ball's overall body of work prevailed, as he received 84 first-place votes and 465 overall points from the selection panel. 

Edwards was second with 15 first-place votes and 309 points, while Tyrese Haliburton of the Sacramento Kings came third with 114 points. 

Ball averaged 15.7 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds in 28.8 minutes across 51 games. 

His signature performance may have come on January 9, when he had 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists against the Atlanta Hawks to become the youngest NBA player to record a triple-double. 

Edwards finished with averages of 19.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 72 games. 

 

Russell Westbrook took another giant step towards an NBA record after teaming up with Bradley Beal to help the Washington Wizards push the Toronto Raptors to the verge of elimination from a spot the NBA play-in tournament with a 131-129 win in overtime. 

Westbrook posted 13 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists for his 180th career triple-double, leaving him one shy of equalling Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson's all-time record on Thursday.

Former MVP Westbrook because the first player with three consecutive 17-plus assist games since Steve Nash in 2007.

Wizards star Beal scored half of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and overtime as Washington outlasted Toronto.

Raul Neto added a career-high 25 points and Robin Lopez had a season-best 24 for the Wizards (31-36), who hold a four-game lead over the Raptors (27-40) for the final play-in spot with five games remaining for both teams. 

Pascal Siakam matched his career best with 44 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists but missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer in overtime that would have won it for Toronto. 

Siakam joined Kawhi Leonard and Vince Carter as the only players with a 40-point, 10-rebound and five-assist game in franchise history.

Fred VanVleet sent the game to OT by hitting a shot from beyond the arc with 1.3 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. He finished with 22 and Gary Trent Jr. contributed 25 for Toronto.

 

Mavs withstand big night from Kyrie

Luka Doncic finished with 24 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. had 23 of his own as the Dallas Mavericks downed the slumping Brooklyn Nets 113-109, despite 45 points from Kyrie Irving. 

The Indiana Pacers inched closer to securing a spot in the play-in tournament with a 133-126 win over the Atlanta Hawks as Caris LeVert led the way with 31 points and Domantas Sabonis added 30 on 12-for-14 shooting from the field. Trae Young's double-double of 30 points and 10 assists was not enough for the Hawks. 

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors rolled to a 118-87 victory at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-46). Curry scored 34 points. The two-time MVP has now scored at least 30 points 18 times in his last 20 games (35th time this season).

Paul George had 24 points as the Los Angeles Clippers (45-22) beat cross-town rivals and defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers 118-94. 

 

LaMelo off target against Bulls

A day after his primary competitor for NBA Rookie of the Year, Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves, dropped 42 points, LaMelo Ball made only one of 10 shots from the field and scored just four points in the Charlotte Hornets' 120-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Ball had reached double digits in his previous three games after returning from a wrist injury. 

 

Caldwell-Pope strong to the hoop

Lakers fans did not have much to celebrate in Thursday's blowout loss to the Clippers, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope did provide one highlight with this slam in Ivica Zubac's face.

 

Thursday's results

Chicago Bulls 120-99 Charlotte Hornets
Dallas Mavericks 113-109 Brooklyn Nets
Washington Wizards 131-129 Toronto Raptors (OT)
Detroit Pistons 111-97 Memphis Grizzlies 
Indiana Pacers 133-126 Atlanta Hawks
Golden State Warriors 118-97 Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Clippers 118-94 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Pelicans at 76ers

Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans (30-36) are just outside the cut for the play-in tournament and will face imposing opposition on Friday as they attempt to gain ground in the form of the Philadelphia 76ers (45-21), winners of six in a row. 

Charlotte Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball has been cleared to return to individual basketball activity following a wrist fracture.

Ball has been sidelined since undergoing surgery to address a fracture in his right wrist after the Hornets star was hurt against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 20.

NBA Rookie of the Year favourite at the time of the injury, there had been fears Ball – the third pick in the 2020 Draft – would miss the remainder of his first season in the league.

But on Monday, the Hornets said Ball underwent further evaluation in New York City, where the 19-year-old had his cast removed and a CT scan confirmed the wrist had healed.

The Hornets are eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 28-28 record.

Prior to suffering a wrist fracture in March, Ball ranked first in assists and steals among rookies, second in scoring and is tied for second in rebounds.

The face of an emerging and exciting franchise boasting Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, DeVonte Graham and Miles Bridges, Ball was the only player over the last 60 years to lead all rookies in total points, rebounds, assists and steals at the All-Star break.

In February, Ball joined Stephen Curry (2010) and Jason Kidd (1995) as the only rookies with seven-plus threes and 10-plus assists in a game and was the youngest to do so. He also became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double in January.

Through 41 games, Ball is averaging 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists this season in just 28.6 minutes per game. He would be the first player in NBA history to average 15/5/5 in less than 30 minutes per game in a season (minimum 40 games played), per Stats Perform.

When you compare his first 41 games to some of the past and current greats at the same stage, Ball ranks well.

His points-per-game average is better than five-time champion and Lakers great Kobe Bryant (7.0 in 1996-97), former MVP Harden (9.8 in 2009-10), Curry (13.4 in 2009-10), Steve Nash (4.5 in 1996-97) and Jason Kidd (9.4 in 1994-95).

When it comes to his assists numbers, Hall of Famer Michael Jordan (5.1 in 1984-85) – the owner of the Hornets – Nash (2.9), Dwyane Wade (4.3), Harden (2.1), Curry (4.6) and Kyrie Irving (5.7 in 2011-12) did not fare as good as Ball.

Highlighting his versatility, Ball's rebound average is better than Irving (3.8), Curry (3.8), Harden (3.2), Wade (4.4), Bryant (2.0), Nash (1.3), Kidd (5.7) and Allen Iversen (4.2 in 1996-97).

The Charlotte Hornets have lost another star player to injury after Gordon Hayward was ruled out for four weeks with a foot sprain.

Although the Hornets are going strong in the East, sitting fourth with a 25-23 record, they have been without leading Rookie of the Year contender LaMelo Ball for the past seven games.

Ball, the brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo, was averaging 15.9, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals in his debut NBA season before he fractured his wrist.

The third overall pick faces a race to return this season, although a postseason run would boost his chances.

Charlotte's playoff hopes have now been hit further, however, with Hayward's setback confirmed following Friday's win over the Indiana Pacers.

"He will be reevaluated in approximately four weeks and further updates on his status will be provided as appropriate," a statement read on Saturday.

With Hayward tallying 19.6 points per game this season, it means the Hornets are missing their second- and third-highest scorers.

Terry Rozier leads the way on an average of 20.3 points, although Miles Bridges was Charlotte's top performer against the Pacers with 23 points off the bench in a dominant 114-97 success.

For Hayward, this is just the latest in a series of injury frustrations.

Having earned an All-Star selection with the Utah Jazz, the forward signed with the Boston Celtics in free agency in 2017.

But Hayward played just once in his first season in Boston due to a fractured ankle sustained five minutes into his debut.

He was then beset by a number of minor issues in his second year as a Celtic, averaging just 11.5 points as he played 72 games but started only 18.

The 2019-20 campaign brought a return to form, despite Hayward fracturing his hand, but a sprained ankle at the start of the playoffs limited him to five postseason games, scoring 10.8 points per game after 17.5 in the regular season.

Hayward's sorry stay with the Celtics came to an end ahead of the current season when he moved to Charlotte in a sign-and-trade.

It is safe to say LaMelo Ball has hit the ground running in the NBA.

The hype has long followed Ball and his rise in the basketball world, dating back to his high school days. His outspoken father tipped him to be a future number one draft pick – LaVar talking up his son at every turn.

While he was not the first name called on Draft night last year, LaMelo – the younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo – has lived up to his billing since the Charlotte Hornets used the third pick on the 19-year-old sensation.

Prior to suffering a wrist fracture in March, Rookie of the Year favourite Ball ranked first in assists and steals among rookies, second in scoring and is tied for second in rebounds.

The face of an emerging and exciting franchise boasting Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, DeVonte Graham and Miles Bridges, Ball was the only player over the last 60 years to lead all rookies in total points, rebounds, assists and steals at the All-Star break.

Last month, Ball joined Stephen Curry (2010) and Jason Kidd (1995) as the only rookies with seven-plus threes and 10-plus assists in a game and was the youngest to do so. He also became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double in January.

"I'm really pleased for LaMelo that, not only has he gone to a situation that allows him to showcase what he can do, but the people around him from top to bottom really care about his development as a player and a person," Matt Flinn, who coached Ball during his time with the Illawarra Hawks in Australia's NBL prior to the draft, told Stats Perform News.

"We keep forgetting he's only 19. Can you imagine in three years when he's 22? Doing what he's doing now is quite special. In three or four years' time, he's going to be a superstar of the NBA."

Ball's playmaking ability has been on show throughout the 2020-21 campaign, right up until he hurt his wrist against the Los Angeles Clippers and underwent surgery – the fracture was reported to be potentially season-ending, though the Hornets have not ruled out a return.

By March 25, he had featured in the top 20 for assist percentage (33.4), a list including experienced stars, champions and former MVPs like Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic, James Harden, Trae Young, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Damian Lillard, Draymond Green, John Wall, DeMar DeRozan, Curry, Ben Simmons and Kyle Lowry.

His assists/turnover ratio stands at 2.18 – better than Los Angeles Lakers legend James.

"You just look at his numbers – possessions plus assists, if you look at the guys with more than 800 possessions, he's sitting in the top 25 in the NBA. When you go through the list, the guys on that list, it's quite incredible for a 19-year-old," Flinn said, having tipped Ball to flourish in the NBA during a pre-draft interview with Stats Perform News.

"When we recruit guys, we look at assist/turnover ratio. Again, that's testament he's hitting the positive column for his usage rate. The ride for LaMelo is just beginning."

Through 41 games, Ball is averaging 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists this season in just 28.6 minutes per game. He would be the first player in NBA history to average 15/5/5 in less than 30 minutes per game in a season (minimum 40 games played), per Stats Perform.

When you compare his first 41 games to some of the past and current greats at the same stage, Ball ranks well.

His points-per-game average is better than five-time champion and Lakers great Kobe Bryant (7.0 in 1996-97), former MVP Harden (9.8 in 2009-10), Curry (13.4 in 2009-10), Steve Nash (4.5 in 1996-97) and Jason Kidd (9.4 in 1994-95).

When it comes to his assists numbers, Hall of Famer Michael Jordan (5.1 in 1984-85) – the owner of the Hornets – Nash (2.9), Dwyane Wade (4.3), Harden (2.1), Curry (4.6) and Kyrie Irving (5.7 in 2011-12) did not fare as good as Ball.

Highlighting his versatility, Ball's rebound average is better than Irving (3.8), Curry (3.8), Harden (3.2), Wade (4.4), Bryant (2.0), Nash (1.3), Kidd (5.7) and Allen Iversen (4.2 in 1996-97).

"It really doesn't surprise me," Flinn said when asked about some of the record-breaking numbers. "I'm not just saying it because the level of belief is probably the first thing that struck me about LaMelo.

"This kid was just born to play. You get a lot of players who are manufactured and they do an incredible amount of work, we put them in boxes in their roles they fulfill in teams. LaMelo really has no ceiling. You just have to look at him in transition and some of the passes he executes in the game.

"In transition, to be able to thread a needle and put the exact amount of spin on it so it holds up to hit a guy running at speed, you can't coach or teach that. Prior to him coming to me and going to Charlotte, he copped a lot of criticism, his family copped a lot of criticism for the show, whatever he did within his journey etc, but they've done an incredible job in the point leading up to me.

"Having allowed him to fail at times in some of the games he played. You look at the old mainstream coaching, 'Well we put accountability on our players and if you turn it over or don't stick to the system, we're dragging you'. That never happened with him during his pathway.

"They're certainly seeing the benefits of that now because when you strip it back now, he is a disciplined, great kid, who genuinely cares about his team-mates and makes people better around him. I'm so happy that he appears to have found his feet."

Flinn – who believes the Jordan-led Hornets have the potential to be a powerhouse in the next five years – added: "What I tried to do with him and what [Charlotte head coach] James [Borrego] is doing as well, even though you might be in a half-court situation, you try to get him downhill.

"When he gets downhill, he has so many escape routes when he commits. He will contest at the rim, he will leave his feet and have three escape routes. For me, that's the real special nature of his play.

"Always the question mark was his ability to shoot the ball [Ball is shooting at 45.1 per cent]. He will continue to get better shooting the ball no question. That will bring in a whole new dimension on how you defend him out of the pick and roll. He's still good enough to work in tight spaces.

"The first time I saw him throw a full-court baseball pass to hit a guy straight in the chest, I'll be honest, I thought 'what are you doing?'. But he rarely fails with those kinds of plays. He just has that unwavering belief. I said to him one time, 'if you weren't playing basketball, you'd probably be a quarterback given your arm and ability to read a player'. It's unique."

Ball was the favourite to be crowned the 2020-21 Rookie of the Year before he was struck down by injury. Does he still deserve the award?

"I might be biased but I really hope so. He is a once-in-a-generation player for the NBA," added Flinn, who said Ball would be devastated following the wrist injury as he "lives, eats and sleeps basketball".

"I believe he'd take winning over anything, but it would be something he'd deserve given the body of work he's been able to produce so far. I don't think you'd have too many arguments."

Charlotte Hornets star LaMelo Ball underwent surgery to address a fracture in his right wrist, the NBA franchise announced on Tuesday.

The Hornets said the surgery was successful for Rookie of the Year favourite Ball, who will have his wrist immobilised before being re-evaluated in four weeks.

Ball is reportedly set to miss the remainder of his first season in the league after hurting his wrist in Saturday's 125-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The 19-year-old has taken the NBA by storm since being drafted by the Hornets with the third pick last year.

Ball has been averaging 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.59 steals (seventh in the NBA) per game this season.

Among rookie leaders, Ball ranks first in assists and steals, second in scoring and is tied for second in rebounds.

Ball is the only player over the last 60 years to lead all rookies in total points, rebounds, assists and steals at the All-Star Break.

Last month, Ball joined Stephen Curry (2010) and Jason Kidd (1995) as the only rookies with seven-plus threes and 10-plus assists in a game and is the youngest to do so.

Ball also became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double in January.

Charlotte Hornets star and NBA Rookie of the Year favourite LaMelo Ball will spend an indefinite spell on the sidelines after fracturing his right wrist.

Ball is reportedly set to miss the remainder of his first season in the league following an MRI scan on Sunday, which revealed a fractured bone.

The 19-year-old rookie sensation will be further evaluated after hurting his wrist in Saturday's 125-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ball has taken the NBA by storm since being drafted by the Hornets with the third pick last year.

He has been averaging 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.59 steals (seventh in the NBA) per game this season.

Among rookie leaders, Ball ranks first in assists and steals, second in scoring and is tied for second in rebounds.

Ball is the only player over the last 60 years to lead all rookies in total points, rebounds, assists and steals at the All-Star Break.

Last month, Ball joined Stephen Curry (2010) and Jason Kidd (1995) as the only rookies with seven-plus threes and 10-plus assists in a game and is the youngest to do so.

Ball also became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double in January.

LaMelo Ball is "fearless" and his shooting is only going to improve after the rookie starred in the Charlotte Hornets' 119-94 triumph over the Houston Rockets, says head coach James Borrego.

The 19-year-old had a game-high 24 points to go alongside 10 assists and a career-high seven three-pointers in Monday's contest.

Consequently, Ball joined Stephen Curry (2010) and Jason Kidd (1995) as the only rookies with seven-plus threes and 10-plus assists in a game and is the youngest to do so.

Borrego initially had concerns over Ball's shooting style, given the way his release point is at his chest not above his shoulders, but those fears were allayed by a trip to watch him at a workout in Los Angeles.

"When we went there, there was just a confidence about him and his shot," Borrego said. 

"As I sat there with [Hornets GM] Mitch [Kupchak] I looked over and said 'he's going to be fine'. The kid is confident and believes it is going in. And that is at least half the battle.

"Whether he's at the line or two feet behind the line, it's almost effortless.

"[LaMelo] oozes confidence. He's going to continue that. He's fearless. He's going to continue to shoot it. 

"He's got great confidence in [his shot] and he's going to keep getting reps and better shots as he goes. It's a great weapon to have and it sets up a lot of his game with the way he can get to the rim."

Ball himself added on his shooting style: "I stick with it. I say, 'this is how I shoot'.

"I'm confident in it and I feel good letting it go. I came here and they tried to adjust it a little, but I'm like, 'Ah, this is how I shoot'."

LeBron James was the star of the show again as NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-112 in overtime.

James posted a triple-double after just three quarters, eventually leading the streaking Lakers past the visiting Thunder in Los Angeles on Monday.

The Lakers superstar finished with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists in the absence of team-mate Anthony Davis (Achilles).

Montrezl Harrell contributed 21 points off the bench as the Lakers won their fifth game in a row.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander forced overtime with free throws, but his double-double of 29 points and 10 assists was not enough for the Thunder – who were outscored 9-2 in OT.

Thunder team-mate Hamidou Diallo also recorded a double-double (20 points and 11 rebounds).

 

LaMelo dazzles

LaMelo Ball posted a game-high 24 points, 10 assists and a career-high seven three-pointers as the Charlotte Hornets topped the Houston Rockets 119-94. He joined Stephen Curry (2010) and Jason Kidd (1995) as the only rookies with seven-plus threes and 10-plus assists in a game.

Draymond Green put on a show for the Golden State Warriors, who lost 105-100 to the San Antonio Spurs. He became the sixth player in franchise history to reach 3,000 career assists. Green also had his third double-double of the season (10 rebounds and 10 assists). Curry scored 32 points for the beaten Warriors.

The Milwaukee Bucks extended their winning streak to five games thanks to two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Antetokounmpo put up 30 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, while Middleton dropped 29 points, a career-high 12 assists and eight rebounds. The Bucks were 125-112 winners over the Denver Nuggets, who were led by Nikola Jokic's 35 points and 12 rebounds.

Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam each scored 32 points as the Toronto Raptors rallied past the Memphis Grizzlies 128-113. Norman Powell contributed 29 points for the Raptors, while Jonas Valanciunas' double-double of 27 points and a season-high 20 rebounds were not enough for the Grizzlies.

A season-high 36 points from Devin Booker fuelled the Phoenix Suns' 119-113 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, while the NBA's leading scorer Bradley Beal finished with 35 points to lead the Washington Wizards to a 105-101 win against the Chicago Bulls.

 

Murray struggles in Denver

While Jokic starred, Nuggets team-mate Jamal Murray was inefficient in a loss to the Bucks. In 37 minutes, he was just four-of-17 shooting from the field, while he only made one of seven three-pointers for 11 points.

P.J. Tucker was scoreless for the Rockets after going 0-of-three from the field in 23 minutes.

 

Harrell says no!

With the Lakers looking to close out another win, Harrell produced an emphatic block to deny the Thunder late in OT.

Monday's results

Charlotte Hornets 119-94 Houston Rockets
Washington Wizards 105-101 Chicago Bulls
Toronto Raptors 128-113 Memphis Grizzlies
Dallas Mavericks 127-122 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 105-100 Golden State Warriors
Phoenix Suns 119-113 Cleveland Cavaliers
Milwaukee Bucks 125-112 Denver Nuggets
Los Angeles Lakers 119-112 Oklahoma City Thunder (OT)

 

76ers at Kings

The Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers (17-7) travel to the Sacramento Kings (12-11) on Tuesday. The Kings have won four straight games.

LaMelo Ball's NBA career with the Charlotte Hornets got off to a subpar start. 

In fact that might just be a generous description of his NBA debut. It was downright brutal. 

The third overall pick of this year's draft played a scoreless 15 minutes in his first game, missing all five of his field-goal attempts in Charlotte’s 121-114 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 23. 

Not only did he fail to score, the highly-touted playmaker also turned the ball over three times, becoming only the second player in the last 35 years to finish without a point while taking at least five shots with three or more turnovers in 15-plus minutes in their NBA debut, joining the Golden State Warriors' Brandon Williams in 1998. 

While he got off to a shaky start, things have since gone much better. 

Better actually might not be kind enough in describing his recent play. He's been outstanding. 

On the onset of the 2020 draft, the 6-foot-7 point guard was widely considered to have the highest ceiling of all the prospects. An adept ball-handler, scouts marvelled at his passing, court vision and his ability to push the ball up the court. 

Though Ball possesses an immense skillset and has a comprehensive understanding of the game, making the jump from Australia's National Basketball League to the NBA would admittedly take time. 

It took him all of one week. 

With 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a win over the Dallas Mavericks on December 30, he became the first player in the last 35 years to reach those numbers in just his fourth game, and he's continued to stuff the stat sheet with impressive numbers. 

Since then, he's had two more games with 15 or more points, eight or more rebounds and five or more assists. Only four other players have had more such games in that span – the Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic (six), Mavericks' Luka Doncic (five), New York Knicks' Julius Randle (five) and Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (four). 

Over the course of three games from January 8-11, he racked up 42 points, 36 rebounds and 27 assists, joining Ben Simmons in 2017 and Lamar Odom in 2000 as the only rookies in the last 35 years with at least 40 points, 35 boards and 25 assists over a three-game span. 

In the middle game of that three-match stretch, Ball made history. At 19 years and 140 days, he became the youngest player ever to record a triple-double by notching 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in Saturday's win over the Atlanta Hawks. 

Despite stumbling out of the gate with his forgettable debut, he still reached the 10-game mark with 131 points, 63 rebounds and 59 assists. In the last 35 seasons, only two other rookies have reached those numbers after 10 games – James in 2003 and Simmons in 2017. 

Ball's passing has been as advertised. He's finding his open team-mates and setting them up for success. 

Among the 100 players with at least 30 assists, he has the league's 10-best assist rate – the estimation of percentage of field goals made by team-mates while he's on the floor. At 36.8 per cent, Ball sits just a bit back of James, whose eighth at 37.6. 

With 71 assists on the season, Ball has eight fewer assists than Devonte' Graham for the most on the Hornets. He does, however, lead Charlotte with 84 rebounds, and if he does surpass Graham and finish the season leading the team in both rebounds and assists, he'll join Michael Jordan in 1984-85 and Blake Griffin in 2010-11, as the only rookies in the last 40 years to lead their team in both categories. 

Not only is Ball flourishing in the part of his game many thought he would eventually excel in, he is also finding success in areas that were believed to be some of his biggest weaknesses – shooting and defense. 

After shooting a dreadful 24 per cent from 3-point range in Australia's NBL, Ball is making a respectable 33.9 per cent of his 3s. Nothing outstanding, but the league average on 3s is 36.6 per cent. 

He’s also showing a proficiency at knocking down shots just inside the arc. His 50 per cent shooting on mid-range jumpers is tied with seven others for 17th in the NBA among those with at least 100 field-goal attempts. 

Defense was another area that many expected would take Ball time to grasp and be competent in, but he’s already proven to be up to speed, leading all rookies with 22 defensive stops. 

Not only does he lead all first-year players in defensive stops, he also leads all rookies in points (143), rebounds (84), assists (71), as well as steals (18). 

If Ball continues to thrive on the court and finishes the season leading all rookies in points, rebounds and assists, he’ll become just the seventh player in NBA history to accomplish that feat, joining Elgin Baylor (1958-59), Wilt Chamberlain (1959-60), Oscar Robertson (1960-61), Walt Bellamy (1961-62), Alvin Adams (1975-76) and Michael Carter-Williams (2013-14). 

Not surprising, but each of the previous six won the Rookie of the Year Award. 

Playing at a level few rookies have before him, Ball is the early frontrunner to win this season's award. 

Good thing for him the trophy isn't handed out after one game. 

LaMelo Ball made more history as the Charlotte Hornets defeated the New York Knicks 109-88 in the NBA on Monday.

Ball became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double on Saturday, and he was at it again for the Hornets – who won their fourth straight game.

The Hornets rookie became the first player aged 19 or younger in league history to lead his team in both rebounds and assists in three consecutive games.

Ball finished with eight points, a career-high 14 rebounds and seven assists as star Hornets team-mate Gordon Hayward posted 34 points, including 28 in the first half.

Two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo returned to help the Milwaukee Bucks past the Orlando Magic 121-99.

Antetokounmpo was in action following a one-game absence due to a minor back injury and scored 22 points, while Bucks team-mate Khris Middleton led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

 

Brilliant Beal helps snap skid

The Washington Wizards ended their three-game losing streak and claimed their first home win of the season thanks to Bradley Beal's 34 points and a 128-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Devin Booker had 33 points for the Suns.

Nikola Vucevic put up 28 points and 13 rebounds for the beaten Magic in Orlando.

The shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers lost 112-94 at the Atlanta Hawks, but Joel Embiid had 24 points and 11 rebounds. Hawks star Trae Young scored 26 points.

Pascal Siakam recorded a triple-double of 22 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists but the struggling Toronto Raptors still lost 112-111 to the Portland Trail Blazers. CJ McCollum (30) and Damian Lillard (23) combined for 53 points.

Harrison Barnes (game-high 30 points) fuelled the Sacramento Kings' 127-122 win against the Indiana Pacers. Domantas Sabonis posted 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers.

 

Knicks struggle

It was a forgettable outing for the Knicks, who were just 39.1 per cent from the field and 24.3 per cent from three-point range. New York's Immanuel Quickley made just one of 10 field goals, while he missed all six attempts from beyond the arc for three points in 29 minutes.

 

Clutch CJ!

McCollum nailed the game-winning shot with 9.6 seconds remaining to lift the Trail Blazers.

 

Monday's results

Charlotte Hornets 109-89 New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies 101-91 Cleveland Cavaliers
Milwaukee Bucks 121-99 Orlando Magic
Washington Wizards 128-107 Phoenix Suns
Atlanta Hawks 112-94 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 112-111 Toronto Raptors
Sacramento Kings 127-122 Indiana Pacers
New Orleans Pelicans-Dallas Mavericks (postponed)

 

Lakers at Rockets

LeBron James and defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers (8-3) will face James Harden's Houston Rockets (3-5) again on Tuesday.

These are uncertain times for the NBA as it continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 protocols have left rosters lighter in number and, with contract tracing having a major impact, it is far from surprising to see games being postponed.

The absences have offered some players greater opportunities to impress in the embryonic stages of a shortened season that will require adaptability from all involved.

After an eventful week, Stats Perform assesses those performers who have stood out - for good and bad reasons - in games from January 4-10.

 

RUNNING HOT...

Bradley Beal 

It has been a tough start for the Wizards, who are stuck in the basement of the Eastern Conference. Beal, however, has excelled amid the defeats. He is averaging 35 points per game for the season but has been particularly spectacular in recent outings, including dropping 60 against the Philadelphia 76ers. While it set a new career best for points - and tied a franchise record too - Beal made clear he is not interested in personal milestones: "I just want to win. Sometimes you might be able to score 40, 50, 60, whatever the case may be, but I just want to win".

Tyrese Maxey 

The 21st pick in the 2020 draft had scored a combined tally of 52 points through his first nine NBA appearances. Then, amid injuries, positive COVID tests and coronavirus-enforced isolations, Maxey was thrust into a leading role as one of just seven players available against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. His response to the situation was to score 39 points in just under 44 minutes of action, having taken 33 shots but no free throw attempts. In doing so, he became the first 76ers rookie with at least 35 points in a game since franchise legend Allen Iverson in 1997. 

Jimmy Butler 

Butler has begun to heat up after a cold start to the new campaign for Miami. The five-time All-Star had been hampered by injury issues but has looked back to somewhere near his best of late, managing 18, 26 and 26 points in his past three games. Surprisingly, though, Butler is still yet to manage a successful three-point attempt, missing on his seven shots from deep so far. It is a different story from the free-throw line, though, going 28 of 29 from the charity stripe.

LaMelo Ball 

The rise and rise of the youngest Ball brother continues. The point guard became the youngest player in NBA history to score a triple-double as Charlotte Hornets beat the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. At 19 years and 140 days old, Ball had 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He had narrowly missed out on achieving the feat in his team's previous outing, against a New Orleans Pelicans team that included older sibling Lonzo. His rebounding average has gone from 4.33 a game to 9.25 across the past week. 

GOING COLD...

James Harden  

The NBA's scoring champion for the previous three seasons, Harden is still averaging 26 points per game despite continued doubts over his long-term future in Houston. However, it has not been a particularly productive week for the guard, who has not reached double digits in terms of field goals made in four straight outings. There were 15-point displays against both the Pacers and the Magic, then 20 points in a defeat to the Lakers. Across that stretch, Harden was six for 22 from three-point range. Astonishingly, he did not attempt a solitary free throw against Orlando. 

Trae Young 

To say Young has gone cold from deep recently is an understatement. The Atlanta Hawk landed five of six attempts in the season-opener against the Bulls, but since then has managed just nine successful long-range shots, including going a combined one for 14 in his most recent three appearances. Understandably, then, his average for points per game has dipped from 28.17 on January 3 to 17.67 for the past week.

Russell Westbrook 

A quadriceps injury will keep Westbrook sidelined for at least a week. His early form with the Wizards has been steady, including reaching double digits for points in all of his seven games for the franchise. Where there has been a dip for the former NBA MVP is in rebounding. He was up at 11.20 per game for the season by January 3, but he has averaged 6.00 for the past week following reduced contributions in defeats to the 76ers and the Celtics.

Blake Griffin  

Griffin hit with eight of 16 three-point shots for Detroit against the Cavaliers on December 26, but his output from long range since suggests that number could prove to be a post-Christmas outlier when compared to the rest of the season. In the past week, the 31-year-old has landed two from deep out of 18 tries for the struggling Pistons. His overall field goal percentage is down on his career mark too (37.6 per cent from 49.7 per cent), explaining why he is averaging 13.9 points per game. 

LaMelo Ball created history in the Charlotte Hornets’ 113-105 win against the Atlanta Hawks by becoming the youngster player of all time to score a triple-double.

The first round rookie announced his arrival in the NBA after coming off the bench to post 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in a dazzling 31 minutes on court.

Terry Rozier added 23 points and PJ Washington posted 22 points to help Charlotte improve to 5-5 as the Hawks rallied with De'Andre Hunter scoring 20 points but fall to to 4-5.

Mikal Bridges starred and six players hit double figures as the Phoenix Suns advanced to 7-3 in the Western Conference with a 125-117 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Bridges led the scoring with a career-high 34 points as the Pacers fell to 6-3 in the Eastern Conference despite Domantas Sabonis' 28 points and 22 rebounds.

Earlier in the day, a threadbare Philadelphia 76ers fell to 7-3 after losing 115-113 to the Denver Nuggets as coach Doc Rivers had only seven players available due injury and COVID-19 protocols.

LaMelo Ball revelled in a "great feeling" after facing his brother, Lonzo, as the Charlotte Hornets overcame the New Orleans Pelicans.

LaMelo had 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the Hornets' 118-110 victory in the NBA on Friday.

His brother, Lonzo, had less of an impact, finishing with five points, three assists and two rebounds for the Pelicans.

LaMelo, who had the first double-double of his NBA career, enjoyed facing his older brother.

"It was a great feeling for sure," he told Fox Sports.

"Onto the next one, we don't really live in the past, we've got a game tomorrow."

Gordon Hayward lifted the Hornets with 26 points, while Zion Williamson had 26 for the Pelicans.

LaMelo praised his team for working together as they improved to 4-5.

"I've played a lot of basketball and I know basketball don't change," he said.

"At the end of the day I'm smooth but all of our team-mates together we all help each other and push each other."

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