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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball scored a career-high 34 points to go along with eight assists in a 138-121 loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

Ball shot 14-of-27 from the field with four 3-pointers, one block and zero turnovers. His 34 points are the most by a Hornets rookie since Alonzo Mourning in 1993.

Ball remained a starter in Friday’s game despite the return of Terry Rozier, whom the 19-year-old had replaced in the starting lineup the past two games. Ball began the season off the bench but has now started in Charlotte’s past three games.

Jazz star Donovan Mitchell called Ball “the real deal” after the game.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m very impressed,” said Mitchell, who helped lead the Jazz to their 14th victory in 15 games. “Not just his playmaking ability and his competitiveness, but his joy. I don’t think I have ever not seen him smile throughout the game.”

Hornets coach James Borrego was most pleased that Ball didn’t have any turnovers.

“That’s big for us — we need that,” Borrego said. “When I see that ratio, good things are going to happen for us most times than not, no matter if the shots go in or not.”

Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham left the game in the second quarter with a strained groin and did not return, while Utah’s Mike Conley developed tightness in his hamstring and played only 22 minutes. Neither coach gave an update on the status of their players after the game.

Ball, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, is averaging 13.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6 assists in 26.5 minutes per game this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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