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With Only 1:34 Left in Game, NBA Player's Return Ends in Disaster After Run-In with Fan

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LaMelo Ball’s first home game of the season didn’t go anywhere near as well as the All-Star point guard hoped.

Not only did the Charlotte Hornets lose 125-113 to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, but Ball re-injured his left ankle when he stepped on a fan’s foot with 1:34 left in the game, an injury which likely will keep him out moving forward.

Ball was trying to save a ball from going out of bounds when he stepped on a seated fan’s foot near the Hornets bench as he tried to brace himself from going into the crowd.

It’s the same ankle that caused Ball to miss a portion of the preseason and the first 13 games of the regular season.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford had no immediate update on Ball’s status, and Ball was not made available to talk to reporters after the game.

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The Hornets are at Cleveland on Friday night.

This was Ball’s third game back since his initial ankle injury in the preseason, but his first at home. It began with him getting a big introduction from the public address announcer and a huge applause during pre-game introductions, but exiting with a grimace on his face and he limped to the locker room.

Ball was stellar when he played, finishing with 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including five 3-pointers. He also had six assists while turning the ball over four times.

“He was great tonight,” Clifford said.

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The Hornets have been hit hard by injuries this season.

Along with Ball missing 13 games, Cody Martin has missed all but one game with quad and knee issues that eventually required surgery, Gordon Hayward has missed the last eight games with a shoulder injury, and Dennis Smith missed the last three due to an ankle sprain. Earlier in the day, the Hornets also announced that first-round draft pick Mark Williams suffered an ankle injury while playing for the G League’s Greensboro Swarm.

Terry Rozier also missed seven games with an ankle injury.

“It’s very tough but we have to be professionals about it,” said Hornets guard Kelly Oubre Jr. “It’s the game of basketball and those things happen. But people who are suited up and who are healthy enough to go out there, we have to go pick up that slack.”

Still, forward P.J. Washington said he’s eager for the day the Hornets (4-12) are at full strength.

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“We all know at some point everybody’s going to get back out there, and we can’t wait for it,” Washington said. “But right now the problem is we’re losing games, so we’ve got to figure it out and start getting some wins.”

Charlotte (4-12) has lost nine of its last 10 games after starting the season 3-3 with a win over the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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