Walker Helps Team LeBron to 148-145 Victory in Los Angeles
Kemba Scores 11 Points in 2nd-Straight All-Star Appearance
By Matt Rochinski, hornets.com
Last year Kemba Walker just wanted to soak in the experience of his first All-Star appearance. This year, Walker had a different goal in mind - to make a difference for Team LeBron and help his team to a victory over Team Stephen in Los Angeles. Walker did just that as he scored 11 points, grabbed two rebounds and dished out an assist in Team LeBron’s 148-145 win at Staples Center.
“It feels real good to get the win, but most importantly, it was a really competitive game,” Walker said after the victory. “I think that’s what the fans wanted and what we wanted, so it was really fun.”
Walker saw his first action of the contest to start the second quarter and made an immediate impact with his team trailing, 42-31. In a span of 5:24, he would go on to score seven points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field as Team LeBron rattled off a 20-10 run to pull to within 52-51. Walker hit his first shot of the game, getting DeMar DeRozan off his feet with a pump fake outside the arc and then driving the lane with his left hand for two. He picked up his next two points after Giannis Antetokounmpo was called for goaltending on another Walker drive down the left side and stayed hot moments later when he hit a three from the right corner with DeRozan’s hand in his face.
“I felt good. I wanted to compete and I wanted to win,” said Walker. “I kept telling everybody when we I first got in, ‘Let’s bring the game back.’ That’s what we were able to do and the rest of the guys were able to finish it off.”
After leading all players on both teams with a +10 +/- rating in the first half, points were a little harder for Walker to come by in the second half as he converted on two nice drives to the rack but was unable to hit any of his three three-point attempts in the second half. He finished the game 5-of-10 from the field, including 1-of-5 from beyond the arc.
“I definitely wanted to get more shots up this year, but I wish I made more though,” he laughed. “It felt good and I got some open looks that I wish I would have made, but it’s all good. I definitely felt a lot more comfortable out there. I was more relaxed and really enjoying myself. It was fun to be a part of it.”
And the win was a perfect way to cap his second-straight All-Star appearance.
“It was a great experience - no complaints,” he smiled. “I had a blast.”
Walker also took notice late in the fourth quarter when the Los Angeles Lakers Jeanie Buss and Los Angeles Clippers Steve Ballmer handed over the 2019 All-Star game ball to Hornets Chairman Michael Jordan, passing the torch to MJ and Charlotte for All-Star next year.
“It was an awesome moment,” said Walker. “(Jordan) got a big standing ovation, as he deserves, and it was good to see him out there as they made the announcement (handing the game over to Charlotte next year). It was cool. I can’t wait!"