Charlotte Hornets v Philadelphia 76ers

Source: Tim Nwachukwu / Getty

LaMelo Ball faces a heated rivalry with an opponent he knows very well. The NBA newcomer for the Charlotte Hornets takes on his brother Lonzo Ball and the Pelicans in New Orleans Friday night in a rare nationally televised game (TV: ESPN, Radio: WFNZ). The Ball brothers, three years apart with Lonzo being the oldest, face each other for the first time professionally.

The Hornets snapped a three-game losing streak with a 102-94 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. They’re looking to get back on track after a 3-5 record to start the season and just one win at Spectrum Center. A majority of the Hornets losses have come by an average of five points.

LaMelo’s rookie season has shown flashes of an All-Star caliber player in the making. He averages 11.8 points per game with 5.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.

On the other hand, the Pelicans are 4-4 after suffering back-to-back defeats that snapped a two-game winning streak in a back-and-forth stretch to start 2021.

Lonzo, the former top pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017, was traded to New Orleans during the 2019 offseason as part of the Anthony Davis deal. The older Ball made an immediate impact since arriving in NOLA, averaging a career-high 11.8 points per game in 63 games last season.

“If anyone’s feeling something, I feel like it’s probably going to be my family,” LaMelo told reporters on Thursday. “They’re probably going to be the ones getting joy out of this. Me and my brother are going out there to try and get a win for our team.”

Lonzo, as a senior, and LaMelo, a freshman, played together for one year at Chino Hills high school (Calif.) in 2015. The duo alongside their sibling, LiAngelo Ball, and cousin, Andre Ball, went undefeated at 35-0 with a state championship. The nation’s No. 1 team tied a California state record with 18 games of 100+ points.