LaMelo Ball helped Illawarra Hawks beat Cairns Taipans 101-91 in the National Basketball League on Saturday. Ball was productive throughout, particularly during the first half, on his way to a season-high tally of 24 points.
The gifted point guard also finished with six rebounds and eight assists at the Cairns Convention Centre in Queensland, Australia. It was Ball's second prolific showing in a row, following Sunday's 83-69 loss to the Brisbane Bullets.
Ball turned on the style during the second quarter by sinking an impressive three-pointer:
Shooting has been an issue for Ball at times this season, with the 18-year-old needing to refine his technique. His work in this area is starting to show and helping Ball to become a more potent force in the attack.
Creative work has never been a problem for the teenager, and Ball showcased his ingenuity with a behind-the-back pass to setup an earlier score:
Ball was performing like a player buoyed by putting 19 points on the Bullets last time out. Yet Ball was also receiving ample support from Sunday Dech and Josh Boone.
Shooting guard Dech helped himself to 13 points in the first half, while the towering Boone put 10 of his own on the scoreboard.
However, the hosts were also finding joy thanks to the performance of Mirko Djeric, who chipped in with 19 points. Cameron Oliver also reached double digits, going 7-of-11 with two-point attempts.
The Taipans were closing the gap, but Ball was determined not to be denied. He turned defense into attack brilliantly to help give the Hawks some breathing room in the third period:
There were only 11 points in it with five minutes, 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter before Majok Deng made a three-pointer to reduce the gap. Dech, who finished with 21 points, then committed a personal foul on D.J. Newbill, who made his free throw, but it was as close as the Taipans got.
Meanwhile, Ball continued to catch the eye with his smart distribution and efficiency. He helped Boone seal his seventh two-pointer with another intelligent assist.
Ultimately, Ball made a statement with arguably his best performance since joining Illawarra. He's now more than justifying the pre-2020 NBA Draft hype.