LaMelo Ball shared the floor with the original “Melo” in Carmelo Anthony and the two had a showdown that is sure to be remembered by NBA fans all around the league.
Ball put up a 30 piece, with eight assists and six rebounds, but Anthony finished with 29 points and the win as the Portland Trailblazers beat the Charlotte Hornets 123-111. Anthony put up 17 of his 29 in the 4th quarter alone. The Blazers also set a new franchise record in three-pointers made in a game with 24 and Anthony pitched in with six of them (6-10). Anthony and the Blazers were firing on all cylinders tonight as they shot 52 percent from deep throughout the game (24-46).
The Hornets did keep the game close up until the 4th quarter, but head coach James Borrego thinks fatigue could have played a part in his team’s performance with the All-Star break around the corner.
“There could have been some fatigue coming off a back to back, but we’re not going to use that as an excuse,” Borrego said.
“Coming off a back-to-back is never easy, but we’re a tough group.” Terry Rozier, who finished the game with 20 points, mentioned that it’s normal for vets and young guys to “check out mentally” before All-Star Weekend as well. “But, we got the best job in the world, so we don’t complain too much we just fight through,” Rozier continued.
The fatigue did not seem to phase LaMelo Ball though. Prior to the matchup with the Blazers, over Ball’s last 4 games on the road trip, he is averaging 22 points, 7.5 assists, and seven rebounds. Tonight, he backed up his excellent play against one of the best scorers in NBA history. The two Melos shared a special moment post-game, by swapping jerseys.
“Its pretty much just all love, showing respect both ways,” Ball said about his jersey swap the OG Melo.
Anthony seems to be a fan of Ball’s game just like the rest of us. It is safe to assume that Anthony knows a thing or two about talent in this league because he was drafted in one of the greatest classes ever in 2003. A fun little nugget is that LaMelo was only two years old when Carmelo entered the league. We can’t blame Anthony for wanting to add a potential rookie of the year to his jersey collection, especially one from an entirely different generation of players.
Ball continues to shine on a nightly basis, no matter who the Hornets face off against. He and Hall-of-Famer Alonzo Morning are now the only Hornets rookies to score 20 or more points in five straight games. The kid is destined to be great in this league and Rozier knows it too.
“He is a superstar in the making, so I just tell people to enjoy it. You’re not gonna see to many guys like this ever,” Rozier said. “He is understanding the game. His mind is all the way slowed down, so the game is coming easy.”
That is high praise for someone that is still only in his first NBA season with a lot more of it to go. His uptick in minutes has allowed his game to grow behind his years. As a starter, Ball is averaging 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists – very similar to Carmelo Anthony’s stats as a rookie with 21 points, six rebounds, and three assists.
Anthony’s and Ball’s games are different and Ball still has a lot of room to grow. But facing a future Hall-of-Famer and getting his respect shows every NBA fan that LaMelo Ball is on the right path. Despite losing the Battle of the Melos this time around, it’s just a matter of time before LaMelo finally takes the mantle.