CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)LaMelo Ball had 28 points, 10 assists and a season-high 12 rebounds and the Charlotte Hornets beat San Antonio 120-110 on Wednesday night to send the Spurs into the NBA All-Star break with a franchise-record 14-game losing streak.
The 21-year-old Ball became the second-youngest player in NBA history to reach 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in his career.
”He is an ultra-talented player for sure,” Hornets swingman Gordon Hayward said. ”Great vision for sure and he’s all over the court. (With rebounding) he has an special ability to be in the right place at the right time. … He’s obviously a great player already and I think he will continue to grow into an even better one.”
When told about the accomplishment Ball immediately correctly guessed that LeBron James was the only player younger than him to reach that pinnacle.
”I don’t like to trip to up with that stuff,” Ball said of being on the same list as James. ”I just go out and try to get win after win.”
For Ball, it was his third triple-double of the season and franchise-leading ninth overall.
The Hornets got another solid contribution from P.J. Washington, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and rookie Mark Williams added 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots as Charlotte won its second straight game.
The Hornets had 12 blocks in all, including five by backup center Nick Richards.
For years the Panthers have sought a rim protector – and now it appears they have two young and capable shot blockers in 7-footers Williams and Richards.
”What they both do is make exceptional plays because of their size and athleticism,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. ”What they need to do now on top of that is less mistakes and not giving possessions away. If they do that we will be in good shape and they will be too.”
Malaki Branham had 23 points and Keldon Johnson added 21 points for the Spurs, who have not won on the road since beating Houston on Dec. 19. Doug McDermott added 17 points on five 3s.
The Hornets led 60-57 at halftime behind Ball, who nearly had a triple-double before the break with 10 points, nine rebounds and eight assists while seeing extra minutes with backcourt mate Terry Rozier out with knee soreness.
Charlotte looked like it might pull away in the fourth quarter, but McDermott led the Spurs back with back-to-back 3-pointers and short jumper to cut the lead to one.
But newly acquired guard Svi Mykhailiuk, playing in his first game with the Hornets, sparked a Charlotte run by burying a jumper from the corner to help push the lead back to six with five minutes remaining.
Ball’s fifth 3-pointer of the game with two minutes remaining pushed the lead back to nine and Washington’s offensive rebound and resounding dunk with 59 seconds left sealed the win.
”At some point, you have to take pride in what you’re doing execution wise and competitively,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ”That starts with defense and we really sucked. That’s on me when I think we’re starting to improve on it, and we go back two steps, so that’s something I’m going to have to think about, figure out how I’m going to be able to motivate them better.”
Spurs: Shot 38.3% from the field.
Hornets: Dennis Smith Jr. got the start for Rozier, who was held out with knee soreness. … Svi Mykhailiuk saw his first action since being acquired in a trade. He scored his first basket on an alley-oop from Ball after a backdoor cut.
Spurs: At Dallas on Feb. 23.
Hornets: At Minnesota on Feb. 24.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports