It was Ball brother against Ball brother on Friday, as the Hornets beat the Pelicans 118-110. with Lonzo Ball starting for the Pelicans and rookie LaMelo Ball coming off the bench for the Hornets, here’s what went down, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
LaMelo Ball checked in midway through the first quarter and immediately started guarding Lonzo Ball. In their first game against each other at the NBA level, the brothers were matched up on one another a fair amount. Surprisingly, LaMelo won Round 1 handily. He had 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists — a near triple-double. Lonzo had a five-point, three-assist dud.
Nine games into the season, Lonzo doesn’t look like a much different player than he was last year. He is a capable defender, and he makes multiple gorgeous passes every night. He also remains wildly inconsistent, is hesitant to drive the basketball into the paint, and can’t get to the free-throw line.
Remember New Orleans’ opening-night win in Tampa, when Ball attempted six free throws? In the 272 minutes he’s played since then, he’s attempted four free throws. In that same stretch of games, Nicolo Melli has attempted four free throws in 47 minutes, and Willy Hernangomez has attempted four free throws in seven minutes. Ball’s unwillingness to try shots at the rim further restricts the Pelicans in the half court, where they already don’t have much shooting to begin with.
LaMelo is still brand new to the league but is already flashing some very big-time talent.