LaMelo Ball produced one of his best performances of the season on Sunday, but it wasn't enough to prevent his Illawarra Hawks falling to defeat against the Perth Wildcats in the National Basketball League.
The Hawks suffered an 81-76 loss at the WIN Sports & Entertainment Centre in New South Wales, Australia.
After leading by six points at the end of the first quarter, Illawarra were unable to build on their strong start, and the National Basketball League champions took control of the contest from that point on.
For Ball, it was a positive individual display, as he chalked up a double-double and came close to a triple-double. He finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
The Hawks Twitter account provided a further breakdown of his performance:
Having only won one of their six matches heading into the contest, the Hawks started the game with determination. In the first quarter, the Wildcats were unable to cope with the attacking play from Tim Coenraad and Ball.
Coenraad was in ruthless form at the start of the clash and also showed signs of a burgeoning chemistry between himself and the 18-year-old, who only played five minutes of the first quarter:
At the end of the first period, the Hawks had built a 30-24 lead and appeared to be on course for a memorable success.
However, the Wildcats showed their championship credentials, gradually working their way back into the encounter. At the halfway point, Illawarra's lead was cut to a point, and after moving in front in the third quarter, Perth were able to hold their opponents at arm's length.
While there were some sloppy moments from Ball in possession, as the Hawks fought to get back into the game he was often the man most likely to spark a comeback for his team.
In the third quarter, he showed off his impressive playmaking skill with this assist:
Ball was also accurate in his shooting on Sunday and kept his team in touch with this long-range effort in the fourth quarter:
Although the Hawks continue to struggle, there were signs in this latest encounter that Ball is beginning to settle in the NBL.
He's already adding a lot to Illawarra's attacking play. With some refinements to his game and some improvements from his team-mates, Ball's side should be capable of getting more wins on the board in the weeks to come.