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Ball, Hornets rally from 19-point deficit to hand Wizards their seventh straight loss

LaMelo Ball Charlotte Hornets LaMelo Ball - The Canadian Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — LaMelo Ball is elevating his game.

Ball had 34 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds as the Charlotte Hornets rallied from a 19-point deficit to hand the Washington Wizards their seventh straight loss, 117-114 on Wednesday night.

Miles Bridges had a season-high 33 points and 11 rebounds, and Mark Williams added 11 points and 14 rebounds for Charlotte.

Ball had 12 points, seven assists and four rebounds in the fourth quarter, and Bridges hit a step-back 3 with 47 seconds left to put Charlotte ahead for good.

It was the second straight game the Hornets (5-9) pulled off a big comeback. They battled back from 18 points down to beat the Boston Celtics in overtime on Monday night.

Ball came into the game averaging 32 points over the last eight games and stayed hot with six 3-pointers and some highlight-reel assists. He's now scored at least 30 points in seven of his last nine games.

“He's playing at an unbelievable level,” Bridges said. “He's made the leap into being a superstar. He was an All-Star, but now he's a superstar. If he's not on any of the All-NBA teams I'll be surprised. He's a winner.”

Said Ball: “I think things (on offense) are starting to run through me more now. So it's on me."

Kyle Kuzma had 28 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, and Jordan Poole added 24 points for the Wizards (2-12), who went cold early in the fourth quarter.

The Wizards led 56-49 at halftime after Corey Kispert hit a shot from just inside the halfcourt line to beat the buzzer.

The Wizards opened the second half on an 8-0 run and went ahead 81-62 late in the third quarter behind Kuzma — and suddenly it was looking a lot like the Wizards' 132-116 blowout of the Hornets on Nov. 10.

But the Hornets battled to take the lead with about five minutes left in the fourth as Ball — still playing with a bandage over a neck tattoo that the NBA says violates its rules against commercial logos — took over.

The All-Star point guard found Williams in the low post with a no-look pass and then drove the lane and fed Williams for a perfectly-placed alley-oop pass between two defenders.

“His vision and ability to deliver passes is really remarkable. He’s just playing at a super high level,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said.

Ball knocked down two more 3-pointers as the Hornets inched closer and then gave Charlotte the lead by finding a cutting Bridges for a layup.

After Bridges' go-ahead 3 — which was similar to his shot that beat the Celtics with 6.6 seconds left in overtime — Daniel Gafford cut the lead to one with a layup. Ball then made two free throws with 17 seconds left with the crowd chanting “MVP! MVP!”

Kuzma had a chance to tie the game, but missed a long 3-pointer as the clock was winding down.

“We didn’t make enough plays late to get it done, but that’s progress,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr said. "To be in those situations where the game is tight, game is in the balance, I think that’s growth for us, so continue to lean in on that."

It was Bridges' fourth game back after sitting out all of last season and serving a 10-game suspension this year for his role in a domestic violence case in 2022. But he's picking up where he left off when he led the Hornets in scoring two seasons ago, averaging 20.7 points per game.

Bridges said he's not surprised by his early success, adding, “I spent a lot of time in the gym. I have confidence in my game.”

The Hornets played without P.J. Washington, a late scratch because of a foot strain.


Wizards: At Milwaukee on Friday night.

Hornets: Open a four-game trip Sunday at Orlando.