The Charlotte Hornets announced that LaMelo Ball has been cleared from the NBA’s health and safety protocols, paving the way for his return to the lineup Wednesday vs the Spurs…and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Hornets played a game this past Friday night against Sacramento with as many as seven players out. Charlotte was also without Terry Rozier, Jalen McDaniels and Mason Plumlee for four games last week.
Despite Terry Rozier returning, Charlotte was blown out last night by a Dallas Mavericks team without Luka Doncic – 120-96. During much of the team’s absence Charlotte leaned heavily on Miles Bridges, Kelly Oubre and Gordon Hayward, but those guys looked like they didn’t have much in the tank versus Dallas. Miles arguably had his worst game of the season, shooting just 2-11 from the floor for only seven points. It took Terry Rozier time to find any flow within the offense and the Hornets’ defense was nonexistent most of the first half as they fell behind early. Charlotte only shot 39% from the floor in a game they will just need to forget about and prepare to get back into rhythm with reinforcements on the way.
Charlotte still has five more games to go on a six-game road trip out west, so having key players returning this week is important for a team that has played one of the hardest schedules in the NBA so far this season (17 of the Hornets’ 29 games have been on the road). To show how significant Ball’s return is just look at the stats for team. Ball leads Charlotte in points, assists, rebounds, steals and player efficiency rating. he is averaging 20 points, 7.7 rebounds, 8.2 assist, 1.9 steals, and has a player efficiency rating of 21.29.
Charlotte will have nearly its full roster for the rest of this road trip as they continue to navigate a tough early season schedule. Charlotte has two struggling teams next in the Spurs and Portland before the trip gets difficult with games against the Suns, Jazz and Nuggets.