LaMelo Ball a ‘rare’ talent after breaking NBA triple-double record, coach says

LaMelo Ball became the youngest player to post a triple-double in NBA history on Saturday, and his head coach believes the rookie guard is a “rare” talent.

At 19 years, 140 days old, Ball put up 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as the Hornets improved to 5-5 with a 113-105 victory over the Hawks at Spectrum Center in Charlotte.

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He took the record from Markelle Fultz, who recorded his first triple-double for the 76ers in 2018 at 19 years, 317 days.

Ball’s triple-double was the first by a Charlotte player since Nic Batum in March 2018, and he became only the second Hornets rookie to achieve the feat after Kemba Walker.

“He just continuously gets better. He’s a special player. He’s not fazed by the moment. It’s like he’s been doing this for a number of years already,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “He was special tonight. Playmaking, shotmaking, on the boards, made the right decisions. He’s a special player.

“I love the person, I love the kid, and more than anything I love his spirit, I love what he brings to our locker room, our organization. Just proud of him, he was fantastic tonight.

“A 19-year-old rookie does not look like this. This is just rare what you’re seeing. I can’t get over this kid, he’s just a wonderful person to be around, he’s humble, he’s genuine, he’s coachable.”

Ball, the third overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, retained a level head after achieving something he thinks he will only take stock of in retirement.

“I live my life and I know what I’m capable of, so stuff like this doesn’t move me like that. I know that’s supposed to happen,” he said. “I’ve not really processed it yet. Probably when I look back on it after my career when I’m like 40 or something, then I’ll probably look back at everything.”

Ball was one assist away from a triple-double when the Hornets beat the Pelicans and his brother Lonzo Ball on Friday in New Orleans, but he denied that provided him with additional motivation against the Hawks.

“I figured I was one assist away during the game, but pretty much the next day I knew we had another basketball game and came to it like I come to every other basketball game,” he said. “The main goal is always winning. Whenever we get a win, that’s great.”

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