CHICAGO – Lonzo Ball and the Chicago Bulls won the battle of the Ball brothers, riding a stellar performance by Nikola Vucevic to a 133-119 victory over LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.
Chicago shot a season-high 59.6% from the field and had five players score in double figures. Vucevic had a season-best 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan scored 28 points, and Zach LaVine, a game-time decision because of an illness, finished with 25.
With patriarch LaVar Ball watching and wearing a black hat that read “I Told You So,” Lonzo Ball improved to 2-1 in three NBA meetings with the youngest of his two brothers. He had 16 points and eight assists, and LaMelo Ball had 18 points and 13 assists.
Terry Rozier scored 31 points and Gordon Hayward finished with 22 for the Hornets, who dropped to 0-2 on its four-game trip.
Charlotte trimmed a 23-point deficit down to four on Hayward's cutting layup with 7:31 left, but Chicago responded with a 9-0 run.
Vucevic sparked the decisive stretch with a layup. The 6-foot-10 center also went 6 for 6 from 3-point range in his highest scoring game of the season. He averaged 11.8 points on 36% shooting in his previous six games.
The Ball brothers were hampered by foul trouble in the second quarter. But Lonzo Ball got the better of his brother with 5:06 left, blocking his shot at the rim, which led to a running slam by Javonte Green at the other end.
The Bulls closed the half with a 9-0 run for a 69-58 lead at the break. LaVine found Vucevic for a 3-pointer from the side at the buzzer.
Hornets: Reserve forward Cody Martin was sidelined by an illness. ... C Mason Plumlee missed his third straight game with a right calf strain.
Bulls: F Patrick Williams (left wrist) has talked about taking some classes at Florida State to work toward his degree, coach Billy Donovan said. “I think things like that are important, but when he's been around our team, I think he's been in good spirits,” Donovan said. Williams, 20, got hurt during a loss to the Knicks on Oct. 28 and is expected to be sidelined for four to six months. ... The Bulls swept their three-game series against the Hornets last season.
Hornets: At the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. It's the first meeting for the teams this season.
Bulls: At the New York Knicks on Thursday night. The teams split their first two meetings, both in Chicago.