LaMelo Ball sprains left ankle in Hornets loss to Wizards

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Charlotte Hornets All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball sprained his left ankle in the third quarter of a preseason 116-107 loss to the Washington Wizards on Monday night when his foot was stepped on while he was driving to the basket.

Ball was driving the left side of the lane when Washington’s Anthony Gill inadvertently stepped on Ball’s foot, causing the third-year pro’s ankle to twist awkwardly.

Ball remained on the floor for several minutes before getting to his feet and gingerly walking to the free throw line. He shot two free throws, then immediately checked out of the game and headed straight to the locker room.

He is expected to undergo more tests on Tuesday.

“Fingers crossed that it is not something serious,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said.

Clifford said Ball and center Mason Plumlee, who sprained his left foot in the game and also left early, won’t play in Wednesday night’s preseason game at Philadelphia.

Ball is considered the centerpiece of the Hornets’ offense, averaging 20.1 points, 7.6 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game last season.

Ball had nine points and six rebounds before leaving the game.

Kristaps Porzingis had 20 points to lead the Wizards, who received some good news before the game that Bradley Beal cleared the league’s health and safety protocol, but was out with a non-COVID illness.

Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 24 points on 8 of 13 shooting, including making all but one of his four 3-pointers.

76ERS 113, CAVALIERS 97

Tyrese Maxey continued his sharp preseason play scoring 19 points to lead Philadelphia to a win in Cleveland.

Maxey, who surpassed 20 points in the Sixers first two games, was 6 of 14, including 3 of 5 from outside the arc. Tobias Harris had 12 points and seven rebounds. James Harden finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. Harden, like Harris and Maxey, played 24 minutes as Philadelphia remained undefeated in three preseason games.

Jarrett Allen led the Cavaliers with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Darius Garland added 17 points and seven assists in 31 minutes. Caris LeVert finished with 13 points, while Donovan Mitchell had 11 points and five rebounds in the latest look at Cleveland’s Garland-Mitchell backcourt.

While the game featured two teams with strong hopes for a postseason run in the Eastern Conference, neither was at full strength. Center Joel Embiid sat out the game for the Sixers, as did Montrezl Harrell, suffering from an intercostal strain.

Meanwhile, Evan Mobley continued to be out of action for the Cavaliers after suffering an ankle injury, and Kevin Love didn’t play because of a sore knee.

HEAT 118, ROCKETS 110

Max Strus scored 24 points as Miami rested a lot of its key players in a home win over Houston.

Jamal Cain, Nikola Jovic and Dru Smith all scored 15 points.

Duncan Robinson had 14 points for the Heat as Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro were among those taking the night off.

Jalen Green led the Rockets with 25 points and five assists, while Kevin Porter Jr. had 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Tari Eason finished with 17 points and Kenyon Martin Jr. had 13.

NUGGETS 107, SUNS 105

Ish Smith scored 17 points, including the go-ahead 20-foot jumper with 8.9 seconds left as Denver beat visiting Phoenix.

Smith had tied the game at 105 converting an 18-footer with 39 seconds remining. Duane Washington Jr. of Phoenix had a chance for the win, but his 3-point attempt in the closing seconds was off the mark.

Bones Hyland had 16 points for Denver before leaving in the third quarter with a lower leg sprain. Bruce Brown finished with 12 points.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 20 points, and Deandre Ayton finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, converting 9 of 12 shots.

Mikal Bridges had 14 for Phoenix.

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