The Charlotte Hornets announced that star point guard LaMelo Ball suffered a broken right ankle against the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.
The injury was bizarre, as Ball was managing his dribble on the perimeter and didn’t make any contact with a Pistons player. However, when he stood up to assess the defense again, he fell awkwardly onto the hardwood and immediately grabbed his ankle once play was stopped.
The Hornets quickly tested Ball and found a fracture.
He came out of Monday night’s contest with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists, in 21 minutes on the court.
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It’s been a tough season for Charlotte with a 20-43 record on the year, though they have won five straight after their 117-106 win over Detroit.
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They own the 14th seed in the Eastern Conference, and with just 19 games left, the 10th seed for a play-in tournament spot looks out of reach.
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Now, Ball’s fracture likely ends his 2023 season.
Ball is in his third season with the Hornets, and while he didn’t earn his second straight All-Star invitation, he’s setting new career highs in points (23.4 per game) and assists (8.5) this year.
Ball also posted the most minutes per game in his early career at 35.6 per game.
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Since Ball will miss future games to recover, Charlotte can elevate Dennis Smith Jr. to the starting lineup. Terry Rozier could also move to point guard, with Kelly Oubre Jr. playing two guards in the starting five as well.