LaMelo Ball caught a horrible break in Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers. Ball, in just his third game of the season, was finally starting to look like his All-Star self with 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting. However, in the fourth quarter of the Hornets’ 125-113 loss to the Pacers, Ball chased a ball out of bounds and stepped on the foot of a fan sitting courtside in Charlotte, rolling his ankle in the process. His pain was apparent immediately, and he was subbed out of the game from there.
The injury is especially notable because of Ball’s recent history with ankle sprains. He initially suffered a sprain to his left ankle in the preseason, and as a result, he missed Charlotte’s first 13 games this season. He finally returned recently, only to twist the same ankle in this loss to Indiana, which could force him to miss more time. For now, the Hornets aren’t jumping to conclusions. “Hopefully, it’s not bad,” coach Steve Clifford told reporters. “I’m sure we won’t really know anything until (Thursday).”
This has been a nightmare season for a Hornets team trying to reenter the postseason following two consecutive embarrassing play-in losses. However, the Hornets are now 4-12 with Ball missing so many games, and if he is forced to sit out longer, things are only going to get harder for Charlotte.
Without Ball, the Hornets would have to lean more on Terry Rozier as their primary shot-creator because Gordon Hayward also remains out with a shoulder injury. Dennis Smith Jr. has been a surprising success for the Hornets this season but is meant for more of a reserve role. Ultimately, the Hornets are destined for the lottery if Ball can’t stay on the floor, so the team will now anxiously await news on Ball’s injury.