Charlotte outscored Detroit 24-14 the rest of the way, with Hornets guard Terry Rozier putting up 14 of his team-high 29 points in the fourth. When Ball, the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, went out in late March, he was widely presumed to be a lock for Rookie of the Year; but his extended absence allowed Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Tyrese Haliburton of the Sacramento Kings to make headway for the hardware.

“LaMelo is deserving of that [award],” Borrego said before Saturday’s tilt. “I’m glad and I’m thankful that he gets a chance to continue that season in the stretch run. … So, I’m thrilled for him. But us as an organization, this is a wonderful time for Melo to be center stage of this thing.”

When asked if the ROY trophy was something on his mind as the season winds down, Ball balked at the idea of placing any emphasis on any individual accolades over team success.

“Mostly winning,” Ball said. “Definitely, it would be playoffs first. But mostly, just winning.”