Court Vision: Hornets top Knicks; Walker may need surgery

Al Jefferson did not start, playing 30 minutes off the bench, and finished with nine points on 4 of 14 shooting.

Charlotte shoots poorly again and wins again as it beats New York 76-71 Saturday night.


Hornets point guard Kemba Walker missed his third game in his last five Saturday night because of extreme soreness in his left knee because of a cyst on the meniscus. Surgery may be a possibility. 

Charlotte general manager Rich Cho exclusively told that it’s a waiting game on whether or not Walker, who is averaging 23.0 points per game in his last 21 outings, will need surgery. 

"That’s what we’re waiting to find out," he said. 

When asked what the timetable was for determining whether Walker will have the cyst removed, Cho said soon.

"We’ll know sometime later next week," he said. 

Prior to the flare up, Walker had scored 28 or more points in his previous six games, the longest such streak of his career and the second-longest streak in the NBA this season behind only Russell Westbrook’s nine straight for Oklahoma City.

He’d been on the best shooting streak of his career, making 44.6 percent for the field over his last 19 games, including 37.4 percent from 3-point range. During that stretch, he’d scored 20 or more 14 times.

Walker returned to the starting lineup Wednesday night against Miami, after having missed the two previous games. He also played Friday against Cleveland. However, he combined to shoot 7-for-31 in the two contests before missing Saturday.

The Hornets would like to avoid Walker going under the knife if at all possible, but it may be something they can’t avoid. The question is whether or not it may be better to get it over and done with by having surgery now as opposed to it being a lingering issue the rest of the season. 

Dr. James Romanowski of Gill Orthopaedic in Charlotte said in general terms and not specifically to Walker since he’s not Walker’s doctor that there are two different ways to combat the injury.

"The cyst is usually painless, but if the pressure builds up high enough, symptoms may occur," said Romanowski, who is formally a team physician with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. "One of the early treatment options is aspirating, or pulling the fluid out the cyst with a needle, but this treatment tends to have a high recurrence rate and only temporarily relieves the pressure."

Romanowski said surgery would likely be a last resort.

"The worst case scenario would be a knee scope to address the meniscal tear and possibly removing the cyst through a separate incision to close down the pocket," Romanowski said. "If so, the recovery time is two-four weeks, afterwards. Either way, the long term prognosis is good."


Reserve guard Brian Roberts doesn’t panic whenever he’s called upon to lead the team, which he’s had to do lately with Walker’s injury. And against the Knicks (8-37), he was a main reason why the Hornets (19-26) won.

Roberts finished with a team-high 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including going 6-for-6 from the free throw line, a couple of which were able to ice the win at the end.

"He played really well," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said of Roberts. "One of the advantages of bringing him here (as a free agent) was he started so many games last year (in New Orleans) that he’s comfortable in the role."

For Roberts, being thrown into a starting role and an important one is something that doesn’t faze him one bit. 

"Just to know I can come in and help the team win at the starting point guard position is something you can’t teach," he said. "Once you go through it, you have confidence, especially after you’ve been successful."

Depending on what happens with Walker, the Hornets may need Roberts much more extensively over the next few weeks.


Once again, Charlotte found it difficult to put the ball in the basket, shooting just 32.9 percent from the field. Moreover, it had just 10 field goals in the first half despite taking 39 shots. By the way, that equates to 25.6 percent.

But this is really nothing new for the Hornets, who have found the going tough of late even during their winning streak.

To underscore just how difficult it’s been to score, they’re shooting just 36.9 percent over the last six games, yet the Hornets record is 5-1.

However, that’s nothing new. The Hornets rank 29th out of 30 NBA teams in shooting percentage at 42.4 percent. The only team to rank worse is Philadelphia at an awful 40.9 percent.

But even as bad as that is, their shooting of late has been even worse, cracking the 41 percent mark just once over their last seven games, which includes Saturday. 

However, despite the poor shooting, Charlotte has been able to win because of the very good defense it is playing. 

Prior to Friday’s game against Cleveland, the Hornets had held their opponents to 22 or fewer points in 14 of their previous 16 quarters and to 80 or fewer points in three straight games. 

"You just have to find a way," Roberts said. "And this team is doing that. What we’ve become is a very good defensive team and that’s something that we can rely on right now."

7 — The number of blocked shots by Hornets center Al Jefferson had, which ties a career high that he set against Minnesota in 2010.

37-18 — The free throw shot discrepancy between Charlotte and the Knicks, who only made nine of their attempts. 

"We fought hard right from the beginning. We had good purpose. We did enough things to win and that’s a good win," Clifford said. 

Follow Brett Jensen on Twitter @Brett_Jensen