The Charlotte Hornets missed LaMelo Ball’s defense in the game against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, March 11, 2023. The Jazz defeated the Hornets 119-111. Although this was an exciting game, the Hornets played poor defense, allowing one man, Talen Horton-Tucker, to dominate them. Horton-Tucker had 37 points, eight rebounds, and ten assists. Walker Kessler had a double-double for the Jazz, scoring 17 points, grabbing 16 rebounds, delivering one assist, and blocking three shots.
Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Hornets with 24 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Oubre Jr. is one player the Hornets need to become a consistent valuable player for it to be poised for the playoffs next season. What’s most important for the Hornets right now is to use the rest of the season to improve. When Melo returns next season, such an intentional focus on improvement can result in the team being one no one wishes to face.
Hornets missed LaMelo Ball’s defense against Talen Horton-Tucker
Although LaMelo Ball is celebrated primarily for what he can do on offense, one should not overlook his defensive talent. While I contend that he can ameliorate his defense significantly, Ball is a quality defender. With his speed and athleticism, Melo would not have let Horton-Tucker repeatedly drive to the basket and make many easy layups. The Hornets’ poor defense made him look like a superstar. Horton-Tucker has talent, but he is no superstar. This game against the Jazz proved that Ball is not simply crucial to the team’s success on offense but also critical to its success on defense.
Before Ball suffered a season-ending injury, he was delivering brilliant performances. Unfortunately, we will not see more of his thrilling performances this season. However, one can expect a stronger and more motivated LaMelo Ball next season.