Walker scores game-high 18 in debut

Kemba Walker opened his NBA career with a solid performance, shaking off a slow start to score a game-high 18 points — including the go-ahead layup — to lift the Charlotte Bobcats to a 79-77 win over the Atlanta Hawks in the preseason opener for both teams.

After missing eight of his first 10 shots, including a dunk on a fastbreak, Walker made a 17-footer and a driving layup over two defenders in the closing 90 seconds. He used his quickness to draw fouls in the lane and shot 9 for 11 from the line.

Josh Smith and Al Horford each scored 11 points to lead the Hawks.

The Bobcats got a strong effort from Boris Diaw, making his first start at center since the departure of Kwame Brown. Playing well away from the basket, Diaw shot 5 for 8 from the field and finished with 12 points.