Charlotte Hornets star point guard LaMelo Ball appeared to be well on his way toward another impressive performance in the early going of Sunday's tilt in Orlando. Unfortunately, that was cut well short as Ball would exit in the 2nd quarter with an ankle injury after landing awkwardly on a converted layup against Orlando's Paolo Banchero. Ball would require assistance to make his way back to the locker room and would not return.
The Hornets were able to make things somewhat interesting late, managing to be down just four points with a little under nine minutes to go. But that was as close as Charlotte would get, as Orlando would pull away over the game's final stretch, handing the Hornets a 130-117 loss on the road. To put a spin on a familiar phrase, it appears Charlotte lost the battle and the war on Sunday.
On the surface, an ankle injury does not seem to be anything to be worried about, particularly one being described as an ankle strain. However, this is the same ankle that Ball had surgery on last season following a season-ending injury. This is where the concern lies. There is a very real possibility that he reaggravated his previous injury, and that would be a devastating blow for all parties involved.
It would not be surprising to see Ball miss some time with his ankle injury, as it is not just one thing in particular to evaluate here. It is the fact that this was the same ankle he previously injured, combined with needing help to exit the floor and not returning to action. There is not a single part of this equation that points toward everything being fine for Ball.
Charlotte is a team that goes as Ball goes. Not having the face of their franchise and undisputed best player will make things that much more difficult for a team that did not have particularly high aspirations that would be considered realistic entering this season. When looking at their upcoming schedule, there are not many opportunities to win for the rest of the calendar year. With 13 games in November and December, there is a very real possibility that this team is double-digit games under .500 and is engaging in trade discussions for any and all of their veterans on the roster should Ball miss an extended period of time.