In his first game after his NBA Rookie of the Year campaign, LaMelo Ball picked up right where he left off.
And the crowd serenaded him with chants for an even more prestigious honor: MVP.
It's only one game, but Ball helped the Charlotte Hornets erase a 23-point second-half deficit against the Indiana Pacers to secure a 123-122 victory in the season opener on Wednesday. A 24-0 run in the third quarter, in which Ball had 12 of his 31 points, sparked the Hornets' comeback victory.
"Yeah," Ball said after the game, "I definitely heard (the MVP chants). The city turnt. I love it. We're gonna keep on trying to win."
— Nick Carboni (@NickCarboniWCNC) October 21, 2021
Ball, the third overall pick in last year's draft, made seven of nine 3-pointers. He finished with nine rebounds and seven assists.
It was the third career 30-point effort for Ball, who became the third-youngest player with 30 points in a season opener. At 20 years and 59 days old, he also is now the youngest player in NBA history with at least 30 points, five rebounds and five assists in a season opener.
LaMelo is the 3rd-youngest player ever with 30 points in a season opener 📈
What a sophomore debut 🙌 pic.twitter.com/fqgCCraB2g
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) October 21, 2021
At just 20 years and 59 days old, LaMelo Ball becomes the youngest player in NBA history to record at least 30+ points, 5+ rebounds and 5+ assists in a season opener.
(via @jkubatko) pic.twitter.com/V93prLOzix
— Boardroom (@boardroom) October 21, 2021
A broken wrist cost Ball 21 games in 2020-21.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: LaMelo Ball makes history in Hornets' win vs. Pacers, draws MVP chants