Walker Makes History on a Legendary Night
Kemba Tallies Franchise-Best 60 Points as Hornets Honor 30th Anniversary Team
GALLERY: Photo Gallery | Fashion | Honey Bees | 30th Anniversary Team Recognition
VIDEOS: Team Highlights | Walker Highlights | Honey Bees | 30th Anniversary Halftime Ceremony | James Borrego | Kemba Walker | Dwayne Bacon
By Matt Rochinski
Kemba Walker gave a legendary performance on a night where the Hornets honored the 10 greatest players in Charlotte history. Walker came in at No. 3 on the list, as voted on by fans, but may have vaulted himself to the top spot following a franchise-best, 60-point game in Charlotte’s 122-119 overtime loss to Philadelphia. Walker also set the NBA season high for points in a game, passing Golden State’s Klay Thompson’s 52-point performance on Oct. 19 against Chicago.
The sellout crowd at Spectrum Center was hoping to get a glimpse of greatness with seven of Charlotte’s 10 members from the 30th Anniversary Team in attendance and was treated to something more as Walker broke his own franchise record of 52 points in the loss. Walker connected on 21-of-34 shots from the field (61.8 percent), including 6-of-14 (42.9 percent) from long range and a perfect 12-of-12 from the free throw line. Walker didn’t just score though, adding seven rebounds, four assists and four steals in the losing effort.
“I was really proud of their effort. They battled tonight,” said Head Coach James Borrego. “The group that played the bulk of the fourth quarter and overtime, I was really proud of them. Kemba Walker is just an amazing ball player. He’s just an incredible ball player. What happened tonight was very unfortunate.”
Walker seemingly willed the Hornets back into this one on multiple occasions after the Hornets went down by as many as 17 points in the first half. First, he tallied 23 points in the first half, giving him a new season high of points scored in a half, passing his 22-point mark on Oct. 20 in Miami. If you were one of those fans looking for Walker to make an impact out of the locker rooms at the break following a presentation of the 30th Anniversary Team at halftime, how does 16 points in the third quarter alone sound? Led by Walker, Charlotte outscored the Sixers, 30-19, in the frame and took an 86-82 lead into the fourth.
With so much energy being exerted by Walker, anyone would understand if his performance dropped off in the fourth. But with his team having seen Philly bounce back itself to take a 101-91 lead with 5:01 left, it was Walker time again as he scored 17 of Charlotte’s last 19 points including a banked-in three on the right side over Jimmy Butler to give the Hornets a 108-107 lead with 44.5 ticks in regulation. With neither team able to claim the win through four quarter, Charlotte and Philly entered the extra session tied, 110-110.
While Walker did only account for two points in overtime, he had a chance to put the Sixers away late. Tied at 119 apiece with 32.7 ticks on the clock, Walker tried to drive past Butler on the right side but was blocked by the 76ers newest addition, giving Philly a chance to steal the win.
The 76ers newest addition - acquired in a trade with Minnesota earlier this week - ran the game clock down to the final moments before connected on a well-defended three over Dwayne Bacon with 0.3 remaining to give Philadelphia the win.
“I think everybody was emotional, pretty emotional,” said Bacon. “Time and time again, this is our third time playing them (Philadelphia) and every time has been close. We just can’t seem to get over that hump. Sometimes at the end of the game we’re doing all the right things, it’s just one or two things don’t go our way and it ends in a loss.”
Jeremy Lamb gave Walker the most assistance in the losing effort, recording a double-double with 20 points and 10 assists. It marked Lamb’s fifth game this season with 15+ points and makes him the Hornets second-leading scorer this season with an average of 12.9 points per game. Cody Zeller (10 points) was the only other Hornets player to finish scoring in double figures.
Joel Embid led the 76ers with 33 points and 11 rebounds, while Ben Simmons (23 points, 11 rebounds) also recorded a double-double.
Charlotte has now dropped three games to Philly this season by a combined six points total with two losses coming in overtime.
“It’s frustrating,” said Walker. “Like I said, I feel like we really deserved that win and it didn’t come out the way we wanted to.”
Charlotte gets the chance to bounce back at 7 p.m. on Monday against Boston at Spectrum Center.