The budding rivalry between flashy point guards LaMelo Ball and Stephen Curry continues Wednesday night when the Charlotte Hornets visit the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.
Ball, the NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year, and scoring leader Curry went head-to-head just once last season in what for the most part was a draw.
Playing at home in February, the Warriors avenged a narrow loss six days earlier in Charlotte with an entertaining 130-121 victory.
Curry led the way with 29 points, hitting eight of his 15 shots and three of his eight 3-point attempts. He also had nine assists and four turnovers.
Ball countered with 22 points with nearly identical shooting numbers (7-for-16 overall, 3-for-8 on threes). He mixed in seven rebounds and six assists.
Despite the similar numbers, Warriors coach Steve Kerr considered it a compliment when he insisted Ball and Curry were nothing alike.
“I think he’s very unique,” Kerr said of Ball. “He reminds me a little bit of his brother (Lonzo) … just the fluidity, willingness to throw the ball ahead in transition. He’s definitely a real point guard. Those are few and far between these days.
“Most young point guards want to grow up to be Steph or Damian Lillard, to be lethal shooters, and LaMelo is kind of old-school — pass-first point guard who is showing that he can shoot, too. Really a terrific young player.”
Curry missed what was supposed to be his first meeting with Ball in the game at Charlotte last February with an illness. The Hornets won 102-100 on a buzzer-beater by Terry Rozier.
Both point guards appear healthy for the rematch.
Ball had 27 and 30 points, respectively, when the Hornets split a pair of games in a just completed homestand against Portland and Cleveland. He made nine of 17 on 3-pointers, giving him 26 for the season on 44.1-percent accuracy.
Ball’s 30-point effort — one off the season-high he set on Opening Night against Indiana — went for naught against the Cavaliers on Monday in part because of his own foul trouble. He picked up two in the first 3:50 of the game, had to take an early seat, and eventually fouled out.
The result was a second loss in four home games for the Hornets. They’ve been better on the road (3-1), where they’ll be the next five games.
“I don’t mind being on the road with this team,” Charlotte coach James Borrego noted Monday. “This group really bunkers in. They’re together, they’re united. Us against the world. I don’t mind that.”
Coincidentally, Ball’s visit to San Francisco comes one day after James Wiseman, drafted one spot higher by the Warriors last year, was cleared to return to practice. The big man suffered torn meniscus in his right knee in a game last April.
Golden State is hoping he can make his season debut on their current eight-game homestand.
Curry thus far has 31 threes on 38.8-percent shooting, including 13 in 35 tries as the Warriors have opened their long run at home with a loss to Memphis and win over Oklahoma City.
Like the Hornets, Golden State has a better record on the road (3-0) than at home (2-1) in the early season.
–Field Level Media