LaMelo Ball’s Career Night Spoiled by Bucks

Antetokounmpo’s Late Game Winner Sends Hornets to 3rd-Straight Loss
by Sam Perley

More Coverage: Game Gallery | James Borrego Postgame | LaMelo Ball Postgame | Miles Bridges Postgame

Coming off two bad losses, the Charlotte Hornets rolled into Milwaukee on Wednesday night looking to knock off a Bucks squad that was riding a seven-game winning streak. Led by LaMelo Ball, they went toe-to-toe with the defending champs until the final seconds, coming up just short in a heart-breaking 127-125 loss.

Charlotte raced out of the gates to an 18-point lead just seconds into the second quarter before Milwaukee inevitably battled back to make it a neck-and-neck affair all the way down into the closing moments. With eight seconds left on the clock, Khris Middleton’s two free throws pushed Milwaukee’s lead to three, but Ball quickly tied the game again with a contested 3-pointer.

Then coming out of a timeout, a charging Giannis Antetokounmpo banked in a tough go-ahead right-handed layup from the left side to put the Bucks back in front by two. Left with no timeouts and just two seconds, Miles Bridges got off a clean half-court heave that agonizingly rimmed in and out of the cylinder moments after the final horn sounded.

“Great effort on the road against a really good team,” stated Hornets Head Coach James Borrego afterwards. “We came in with the right mentality from the start, played for 48 minutes the right way. I don’t have one minute where I don’t think we were playing the right way. If we play this style, this way for 48 minutes, good things are going to happen.”

Ball finished the night with career highs in both scoring (36 points on 12-of-22 shooting) and 3-pointers (8-of-15), five rebounds, nine assists and three steals. Kelly Oubre Jr. (25) and Bridges (22) also cracked 20 points for Charlotte, with Antetokounmpo’s 40 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists leading the way for the hosts.

While he’d surely trade all of the stats back in a heartbeat if it meant the Hornets won instead, Ball’s performance tonight was easily one of the best of his young career, final result aside. Of note, he is now the youngest player in franchise history to record a 35-point game and one of just four players in the NBA this season with a 35-5-5 game and 8+ 3-pointers, per Stathead.com (Steph Curry 2x, Jaylen Brown and Trae Young).

“He’s a fantastic player and we’re lucky and fortunate to have him,” added Borrego. “On the road against the defending champions, an elite team, his fearlessness and composure were fantastic. He’s a great player and he’s only getting better. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The kid’s got a bright, bright future.”

The Hornets will now have three full days off for the first time this season before heading down to Atlanta to face the Hawks on Sunday, Dec. 5 beginning at 6 PM ET.

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