Charlotte Hornets Overtake the Hawks in Playoffs Seeding Behind LaMelo Ball

The Charlotte Hornets went into Wednesday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks one half-game behind them as the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference with time running out in the season. But thanks to a huge final quarter led by LaMelo Ball, the Hornets defeated the Hawks 116-106 to not only get back to .500 on the season but take over the eighth seed in the playoffs.

Ball’s stat line of 22 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds, coupled with 13 points from P.J. Washington in the fourth quarter, powered the Hornets’ small-ball lineup that started in an 85-85 tie.

But what was underrated in Ball’s performance is his contributions with team defense holding Trae Young to only nine points on 3-12 shooting.

“We used our length, size, and physicality, and we made it tough on Trae.” Hornets Coach James Borrego said about the gameplan to defend Young per ESPN. “He is a heck of a player, and getting him out of the pick and roll, we went through probably three or four iterations tonight to make him think on the fly.”

But in the end, it was Ball’s execution of the offense when the Hornets went small playing “pick and pop” with Washington that was the difference in the game. Something that Hawks coach Nate McMillan discussed after the game.

“We didn’t get out quick enough, and we didn’t get out to the shooters, and they basically just ran a pick-and-pop game, and he was able to knock down some shots.”

Then finally, at the end of the game, Melo finished things off in style.

Melo and the Hornets have a few days off before taking on the Dallas Mavericks at home on Saturday night.