LaMelo Ball has brought the buzz back to Charlotte Hornets' basketball on the back of an electric rookie campaign, but on this night, it was older brother Lonzo who had the last laugh.
The New Orleans Pelicans have kept their Play-In Tournament hopes alive, downing the Hornets 112-110 on the road despite the absence of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
Lonzo and LaMelo locked horns down the stretch on several occassions, with each team desperate to pull out the win.
With 1:57 remaining, LaMelo would curl around the screen and perfectly swished an incredibly difficult one-handed floater from just inside the arc to level the scores at 107 with 1:57 to play.
Not to be outdone, Lonzo would immediately work his way into the paint to throw a perfect lob to Jaxon Hayes, giving the Pelicans the lead back at the 1:42 mark, 109-107.
The game unravelled for LaMelo a little after that point, with two missed free-throws costly, before an initial steal attempt resulted in a foul against the Hornets rookie for diving to the floor in an attempt to beat his brother to a loose ball.
Ball Brothers going at it in crunch time! 👏 pic.twitter.com/SVKAF2by3k- NBA (@NBA) May 10, 2021
A LaMelo turnover on an inbound pass with 43 seconds left ended the excitement for the Hornets, as the Pelicans would close out the game to move within 1.5 games of the San Antonio Spurs with four to play. Overall, Lonzo finished with 12 points and six assists, while LaMelo tallied 22 points and five assists on 10-for-19 shooting.
Back to back triples from @ZO2_ pic.twitter.com/wo83P4BUJq- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) May 10, 2021
It was the sixth game back from an extended absence with a wrist injury for LaMelo, with the Hornets posting a 3-3 record in those games. It's been somewhat of an active recovery for the 19-year-old, with the guard immediately applying a heat pack to his wrist each time he comes out of the game.
While the situation is a little more dire for the Pelicans in terms of reaching the Play-In, the loss was a blow for Charlotte who are desperately trying to avoid the do-or-die 9-10 game. The Hornets currently sit 1.0 game ahead of the surging Washington Wizards. If the season ended today, the Hornets would head to Boston for the opportunity to lock in the seven seed in the first round.
Spin Cycle 🌪🌪🌪@MELOD1P | #AllFly pic.twitter.com/J8C4T2d0kB- Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) May 10, 2021
Pelicans injury update
Zion Williamson is likely to miss the rest of the regular season, with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that a possible return for a potential Play-In game is not out of the question.
Just now on NBA Countdown: @wojespn said he believes the expectation is Zion Williamson is done for the regular season.- Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) May 7, 2021
It's possible he could return if the Pelicans make the play-in or beyond. But this isn't a quick return type injury.
Brandon Ingram is recovering from an ankle sprain and is day-to-day, while Steven Adams and Josh Hart are also sidelined with toe and thumb injuries respectively. If the Pelicans can keep winning without their stars, they could receive a significant boost when they return to the lineup. New Orleans have Memphis, Dallas, Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers on the run home, in a brutal end to the regular season.
If the Pelicans make the Play-In Tournament, they will absolutely deserve to be there.
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