Hornets Finish Back-to-Back with Victory in Phoenix
Walker Scores 18 Points in the 4th to Help Charlotte Snap 4-Game Road Losing Streak
GALLERY: Photo Gallery
By Sam Perley
Down two starters and closing out a back-to-back on the road, the Charlotte Hornets buckled down late in the fourth quarter and held on for a 119-113 win over the Suns on Sunday, Jan. 6 in Phoenix, AZ.
Kemba Walker led the way for the visitors with a game-high 29 points and seven rebounds in the victory. The reigning two-time All-Star put the team on his back late in the game, scoring 18 of Charlotte’s final 19 points over a stretch of about four-and-half minutes to close out the contest.
The last two sequences in this aforementioned span included a step-back jumper to take a three-point lead with 22.2 seconds left and then after an empty Phoenix possession, a pair of made free throws to ice the game.
“I was just being aggressive,” said Walker after the game. “Tony [Parker] did a great job of holding it down and I wanted to come in, be aggressive and make plays. I was able to get downhill and get to the basket and free-throw line as well… Everybody on my team wanted me to be aggressive.”
Parker tacked on another 20 points and a game-high six assists off the bench, while Willy Hernangómez chipped in 19 points, a game-high-tying nine rebounds and four assists. Marvin Williams was also in double figures with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Starting two-guard Jeremy Lamb missed his third-consecutive game (right hamstring strain), while center Cody Zeller remained sidelined indefinitely after fracturing his right hand on Dec. 31.
As a team, Charlotte established a new seasonal best with 14 offensive rebounds. After allowing Phoenix to shoot 57.9 percent from the field in the first half, the Hornets clamped down a bit more defensively in the final two quarters, holding the Suns to a clip of 46.7 percent. The Hornets also outscored the Suns in the paint (64-46) and in second-chance points (13-2).
“We just played with more energy and effort [in the second half],” added Marvin Williams. “We didn’t play with the most energy and effort in the first half and Phoenix did a great job of taking advantage of that. We decided in the second half to come out and really pick it up. We were able to get stops and keep scoring on offense.”
T.J Warren (23) and Josh Jackson (22) each had 20-point games for the hometown Suns, who dropped their fourth-consecutive game to the Hornets. Rookie Deandre Ayton tallied 19 points a team-high nine rebounds, finishing just shy of his 25th double-double of the season.
The Hornets return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 8 as they take on the L.A. Clippers beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.