LaMelo Ball boosts Hornets past Raptors 114-104
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Fans were back in the Spectrum Center for the first time in over a year on Saturday, and while the arena only had a limited 3,000 fans (15% capacity), the Charlotte Hornets played like it was a sold-out stadium.
Thanks to a record-breaking first quarter, the Hornets won their third-straight game, 114-104 over the Toronto Raptors and hit 21 total 3-pointers, just three-shy from breaking the franchise record.
Charlotte (19-18) wasted no time showing out for the fans, racing off to a 25-4 start and hitting a franchise-record and tying the NBA record with 11 3-pointers in the first quarter.
They also scored a season-high 44 points in the opening period, which were the most points in any quarter this year by the Hornets.
Things cooled down for Charlotte in the second quarter as a 25-point lead shrunk to 15 at the end of the first half but that lead quickly imploded again in the second half for the victory.
Rookie sensation LaMelo Ball finished the night with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Devonte' Graham chipped in 17 points with six 3-pointers off the bench. When asked by reporters what goes through his mind when Ball makes his sometimes unbelievable plays, Head Coach James Borrego responded enthusiastically. “I don’t know where he learned it from, but if it goes in, I just clap my hands and say, ‘Let’s go play some good defense," Borrego said.
"He’s just a unique player – he’s very unique. I just love his maturity, his growth."
Guard Terry Rozier scored 17 points before suffering a knee contusion in the first half which kept him out the rest of the game despite getting cleared to return.
Charlotte hasn't been above .500 this late into a season (37 games) since the 2016-17 campaign.