Is LaMelo Ball back? Tyrese Haliburton? Pacers at Hornets injury report for Feb 4th

Oct 5, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (1) and Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0)
Oct 5, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (1) and Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) / Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday night, the Indiana Pacers come to Charlotte to take on the Hornets at Spectrum Center. The Hornets enter the game at 10-37 on the season, 13th place in the East, and losers of six straight games. The Pacers sit at 27-23, good for 6th place in the Eastern Conference.

Both teams have been at the forefront of trade rumors, each having already completed a big deal, with more to potentially follow. Several weeks ago, the Pacers traded Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, and three first-round picks to the Raptors in exchange for former All-NBA forward, Pascal Siakam.

While the Hornets, of course, dealt Terry Rozier to Miami in exchange for Kyle Lowry and a first-round pick. Trade rumors indicate that the Hornets want to keep selling and the Pacers want to keep buying. These teams are almost at the opposite point in their respective team-building processes.

Beyond the trades, both teams have been dealing with injuries lately, specifically to star point guards. For the Hornets, LaMelo Ball has only played in 22 games this season, and that includes four straight missed games with ankle soreness.

On the Pacers side, their All-Star point guard, Tyrese Haliburton was having a career year before suffering a hamstring injury that caused him to miss 10 games. He has played in three straight, but at most 22 minutes, and the Pacers have lost all three games.

Hornets Injury Report

For the Hornets, it’s more of the same, as Mark Williams (back), Gordon Hayward (calf), and Kyle Lowry (not with team) remain ‘OUT’ for Sunday’s game. Joining them with a designation of ‘OUT’ is LaMelo Ball. Frank Ntilikina is also on the report, as ‘questionable’ with a hip injury.

The Ball downgrade is fairly concerning, as he was originally listed as ‘questionable’ with ankle soreness for the first two games he missed, he was downgraded to ‘doubtful’ for the previous two games, and now he’s been downgraded again to ‘OUT’.

Clearly, things are trending in the wrong direction for Ball, and what looked like one night off for soreness has suddenly turned into an ankle injury with no clear return in sight. Hopefully, he can get back sooner rather than later, as the remainder of this season should be an important period for the young players to gel together.

Pacers Injury Report

For Indiana, the report just lists four players as ‘questionable’. That includes Tyrese Haliburton (hamstring), Myles Turner (ankle), Bennedict Mathurin (toe), and Jalen Smith (back). Turner and Smith both missed the Pacers' last game against the Kings but played in the previous game. Mathurin played against the Kings but missed the game before that. And Haliburton has played - albeit sparingly - in the past three games.

It doesn’t seem like any of these injury issues are major, and the Pacers can likely still beat Charlotte without a full complement of players.

The Haliburton situation is the most interesting one, as he was likely en route to an All-NBA spot, perhaps first-team, before injuring his hamstring. Due to new NBA rules, players must play at least 65 games to be eligible for postseason awards and teams.

Tyrese has now played in 37 of 50 games thus far, so he must appear in at least 28 of the team’s final 32 games. It’s also notable that in those 65 games, players must play at least 20+ minutes to qualify.

It would appear that Haliburton has rushed back to action, perhaps prematurely, but is playing the minimum amount of minutes possible to keep his All-NBA chances alive. It’s not just a matter of being recognized either, as an All-NBA distinction could make the difference in over $40 million on his next contract.

For that reason, I expect Haliburton to suit up tonight in Charlotte but don’t be surprised if he ends up playing less than half the game.