Ball scores 24, Hornets bury Bulls early in 133-117 win

LaMelo Ball scored 24 points and the Charlotte Hornets buried the Chicago Bulls early in a 133-117 win on Friday night.

The Hornets — 10th in the Eastern Conference and a game behind Brooklyn and Atlanta coming in — barely broke a sweat in this one. They led 79-51 through the first two quarters, the most points allowed in a half this season by Chicago, and handed the listless Bulls their fourth straight loss.

Charlotte shot 60.5% and made 19 of 40 3-pointers, with Ball setting the tone. The All-Star point guard did all his scoring in the first half. He made 8 of 16 shots in the game, including 5 of 9 3-pointers, and finished with nine assists in 29 minutes.

Miles Bridges scored 20, and the Hornets snapped a five-game losing streak against Chicago.

Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 23 points. Coby White scored 19. DeMar DeRozan added 17 points. But coming off convincing losses to Miami, Milwaukee and Boston, the Bulls never put up a fight against Charlotte.

They gave up uncontested shots at the rim and open 3-pointers, helping the Hornets get off to a blistering start.

Charlotte made its first 11 shots, including four 3-pointers, before Rozier missed badly from beyond the arc with 4:41 left in the first quarter.

Ball, meanwhile, hit his first five shots and buried three 3s before missing a driving finger roll in the final minute of the period. He made back-to-back 3s early in the second quarter to boost the lead to 50-32, and things didn’t get better for the Bulls after that.


Hornets: F Gordon Hayward (sore left foot) missed his third consecutive game, and coach James Borrego had no update on his status for the regular-season finale against Washington on Sunday or the play-in tournament. After missing 22 games with a sprained left ankle, Hayward returned to play 17 minutes against Philadelphia on Saturday. But he has since been sidelined. Hayward is averaging 15.9 points in 49 games.

Bulls: G Lonzo Ball (left knee surgery) will remain in Chicago for the remainder of the season as he rehabs his season-ending injury. Coach Billy Donovan said the plan, at least for now, does not call for more surgery. Ball’s final game was Jan. 14, and he had surgery two weeks later. The Bulls hoped a recent 10-day shutdown in activities after he experienced discomfort would resolve the issue and allow him to return this season. But he felt pain again when he tried to ramp back up. The Bulls announced Wednesday he is out for the rest of the season. ... G Alex Caruso (bruised lower back) missed his second consecutive game, and Donovan wasn’t sure if he will play in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Minnesota.


Hornets: Host Washington on Sunday.

Bulls: Visit Minnesota on Sunday.