CHARLOTTE, NC — The Detroit Pistons beat the Hornets 141-134 in overtime on Wednesday night, spoiling LaMelo Ball’s return to the court and prompting Charlotte coach Steve Clifford to criticize his team. after the game just to worry about “how many points did we score”. .”
Ball, playing in just his fourth game of the season, finished with 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting and 11 assists in his first game since Nov. 16 because of a sprained left ankle. But he fouled out with 29.6 seconds left in regulation, and his presence was lost in overtime when the Hornets were outscored 14-7.
The 21-year-old All-Star point guard looked rusty early on with five of his first six 3-point attempts hitting the front rim.
“It was the legs and stuff, just going back to it,” Ball said.
But he began to heat up early in the fourth quarter, knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers, including a fade to the left corner, to cut Detroit’s lead to five. Ball then drove to the lane and dove Jalen McDaniels up for a 3-pointer to tie it with just under 10 minutes remaining in regulation.
“He’s really talented and we had three quarters scoring 30 or more,” Hornets center Mason Plumlee said. “It’s great to have him back.”
With the game tied late, Bojan Bogdanovic missed a jumper and the Hornets grabbed the rebound and called a timeout with 1.3 seconds remaining in regulation to set up an in-bounds lateral play. But Terry Rozier’s lopsided 3-pointer from the corner reverberated around the rim and came out at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
Detroit dominated in overtime with Ball out of the game.
Clifford criticized his team after the match, expressing his dissatisfaction with the defensive effort.
“Until we worry about something other than how many points we score, we’re not going to win much,” Clifford said in an opening statement before leaving without answering any questions from reporters. There is no bright spot. We don’t run defense, we don’t defend the ball, we don’t pick-and-roll… all we care about is scoring. That is all.”
Said Ball: “We have to focus on defense and figure that out. As soon as we do that, we’ll change this.”
Ball was sidelined for 11 games after reinjuring his left ankle on November 16 when he stepped on a fan’s foot while trying to stop a ball from going out of bounds. He initially sprained his ankle when he stepped on Anthony Gill’s foot in a preseason game against the Washington Wizards, causing him to miss the first 13 games of the regular season. Ball returned on November 12, but reinjured his ankle in his third game.
Associated Press contributed to this report.