Ten games into the shortened 2020-21 NBA season, the Charlotte Hornets finally look like they might turn the table and become a playoff team once again. After losing three straight games, including the first two of a four-game road trip — both of which were against Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia — Charlotte evened its record at 5-5 by rattling off three wins in a row. The highlight of the Hornets’ most-recent road trip was an 118-110 victory over New Orleans on Friday night on ESPN. Charlotte got huge performances that night from forward Gordon Hayward, who tallied a team-high 26 points to go with seven rebounds and three assists, and forward Miles Bridges — who notched 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting off the bench. Friday’s come-from-behind win also showcased the immense talent of rookie LaMelo Ball in front of a national audience. The 6-foot-7 point guard didn’t disappoint, coming up one assist shy of a triple-double (12 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists) while helping Charlotte secure a win over his brother Lonzo’s team. Ball followed up his performance Friday by becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double during Charlotte’s 113-105 win over Atlanta on Saturday. Ball scored 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting while grabbing 12 rebounds and distributing 11 assists in merely 31 minutes. Ball had the highest plus-minus (+18) of any player on the floor Saturday. For the season, he is averaging 12.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. Charlotte was also aided Saturday by a pair of 20-point games from guard Terry Rozier (23) and forward P.J. Washington (22). Ball is taking the league by storm early on in his rookie season and has become arguably the steal of the draft for Charlotte, who selected him with the No. 3 overall pick. He has a chance to be the highest-impact rookie Charlotte has had since former No. 1 overall pick Larry Johnson averaged 19.2 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists as a rookie during the 1991-92 season. While Ball doesn’t start yet, he’s been part of some of the better lineups head coach James Borrego has put on the floor this season. Charlotte’s starting lineup of Rozier, Hayward, Washington, Devonte’ Graham and Bismack Biyombo currently has an offensive rating of 88.7 and a defensive rating of 111.6. The net rating of -22.9 is the lowest for any lineup the Hornets have played this season. Charlotte’s top offensive lineup this season, which has resulted in an offensive rating of 120.7, features Rozier and Graham in the backcourt with Hayward at the three, Bridges at the four and Washington at the five. The Hornets’ top lineup in terms of both defensive strength (48.3 defensive rating) and net rating (51.7) has Ball and Graham in the backcourt with Caleb Martin, Bridges and Washington in the frontcourt. Borrego said during the pre-game telecast at New Orleans he expects starting center Cody Zeller to return from fractures in his hand in about three weeks. While more than 60 games still to be played in the regular season, the Hornets are currently tied for sixth place in the Eastern Conference and are only two games behind first-place Philadelphia at 7-3.
Graham in the backcourt with Caleb Martin, Bridges and Washington in the frontcourt.
Borrego said during the pre-game telecast at New Orleans he expects starting center Cody Zeller to return from fractures in his hand in about three weeks.
While more than 60 games still to be played in the regular season, the Hornets are currently tied for sixth place in the Eastern Conference and are only two games behind first-place Philadelphia at 7-3.