CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 20: Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Hornets brings the ball up against the Atlanta Hawks during their game at Spectrum Center on October 20, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

For the third time this season and the second time since the season-opener, LaMelo Ball did not see the court in the fourth quarter on Wednesday as the Hornets lost in Memphis.  The last time Ball didn’t see the court in a fourth period, it was a disciplinary issue as repeated turnovers led to head coach James Borrego keeping his rookie on the bench and demanding more of his rookie guard.

On Wednesday, that was not the case, nor was any injury the reason for him not seeing the court. After the game, Borrego said he was looking to limit Ball’s minutes after an increase in recent games.

“It was just game flow,” he said. “He’s played a lot of minutes recently. I just went with a different lineup there and that was just the rhythm of the night. No injuries, nothing there.”

Coming into Wednesday, Ball averaged 33.2 minutes per game over his last seven games, a dramatic jump from the 24.4 minutes here averaged in the first 18 games. Much of that increase was a result of injuries to Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier that led to Ball stepping into the starting lineup.

Entering the fourth quarter on Wednesday, Ball took a seat as Borrego went with a different lineup to open the period. When that lineup failed to make a dent in the lead, Borrego began emptying the bench, sitting Gordon Hayward and P.J. Washington with 6:17 left and Charlotte down 18 points.

The 28 minutes Ball played on Wednesday is the fewest minutes he’s played in the last seven games and the first time he’s played fewer than 30 minutes in six games. Ultimately, it’s exceedingly unlikely Ball would have made an impact in the fourth quarter by the time he would have checked in.

More importantly, Ball is the 19-year-old future of the franchise who went nearly 13 months between games heading into this season and played just a dozen games last season in Illawarra. The Hornets are bringing Ball along slowly and appears to be the lone reason he did not see the court in the final period on Wednesday.