Behind LaMelo Ball’s 31 points, Hornets make 23-point comeback to defeat Pacers in season-opener

Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) brings the ball up court while guarded by Indiana...
Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) brings the ball up court while guarded by Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)(Jacob Kupferman | AP)
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 9:42 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - After getting blown out by the Indiana Pacers in the play-in game to end their season in May, the Charlotte Hornets opened up their 2021-22 schedule with a 23-point comeback to defeat the Pacers at home on Wednesday night.

In front of a packed Spectrum Center crowd, the Hornets came back from down 84-63 in the third quarter with a 24-0 run and never looked back, defeating Indiana 123-122 in the first game of the season.

Last year’s Rookie of the Year winner, point guard LaMelo Ball propelled the comeback by scoring 11 of his 31 points during the run. He went 7-for-9 from the 3-point line and also had nine rebounds and seven assists.

‘MVP’ chants began to echo throughout Spectrum Center for the second-year guard.

“It was special,” head coach James Borrego said. “This was an awesome crowd. This is what we’ve been waiting for, for 18 months.”

The Hornets and Pacers continued to exchange leads throughout the fourth quarter and small forward Gordon Hayward kept Charlotte in the game by scoring 13 of his 27 points in the quarter.

Indiana took a 122-121 with 4.6 seconds remaining but Hornets forward P.J. Washington was fouled and made both free throws to give Charlotte a 123-122 lead and then stopped Domantas Sabonis from scoring the game-winner.

Charlotte’s first-half defense struggled, particularly inside the paint as Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis scored 22 points in the first 13 minutes he played. However, Hornets center Mason Plumlee settled in and finished the night with eight points and 10 rebounds.

Sabonis finished with 33 points and 15 rebounds. Malcolm Brogdon had 28 points and Chris Daurte scored 27 for the Pacers.

The Hornets were without starting guard Terry Rozier due to an ankle injury but Charlotte native point guard Ish Smith, who signed with the team this offseason, stepped up off the bench by scoring 14 points. Miles Bridges finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 14 points in his Hornets debut.

Charlotte is now 1-0 and will travel to face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

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