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LaMelo Ball powers Hornets to needed home win over Thunder

Dec 29, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (1) is fouled by Oklahoma City Thunder forward Eugene Omoruyi (2) during the first half at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball poured in 27 points and came one assist shy of a triple-double as the Charlotte Hornets returned home for a 121-113 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

Ball added 10 rebounds to an inspiring all-around performance to provide a boost to the struggling team.

PJ Washington added 25 points and Mark Williams, who has spent a large chunk of the season in the G League, came off the bench for 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Mason Plumlee racked up 14 points to go with nine rebounds, while Jalen McDaniels had 12 points and Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier both added 10 points for the Hornets, who held a 52-41 rebounding edge.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 28 points led the Thunder as he was the team’s top scorer for the 12th time in the last 13 games. Luguentz Dort’s 22 points and Josh Giddey’s 21 points were also a boost for Oklahoma City. Tre Mann put up 17 points and Jalen Williams added 15 points.

The Hornets shot 54.8 percent from the field but had to overcome 19-for-29 shooting on free throws.

Tied at 103-103, Ball and Washington made back-to-back shots, with Washington’s 3 sending the Hornets to a 108-103 edge with 3:39 to play.

Charlotte kept the momentum, using Plumlee’s tip-in for a nine-point advantage and later Ball’s 3-pointer to stretch the lead again after the Thunder had pulled within 112-108.

The Hornets were just two nights removed from the end of a 2-4 West Coast road trip.

It was the first win in the last six home games for Charlotte, which hadn’t played at home since Dec. 16.

The Thunder recovered from a rough start to claim a 60-57 halftime edge despite Charlotte’s 52.4-percent shooting from the field. Oklahoma City offset that with seven 3-point baskets and benefited from nine turnovers by the Hornets.

Oklahoma City outscored the Hornets 23-12 across the last 7:40 of the first half.

–Field Level Media