Kemba Walker puts on one-man show in stunning 52-point outburst
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The longer the game went, the more Kemba Walker kept piling up the points.
Walker wound up scoring a franchise-record 52, starting fast from the field in the first quarter and then closing it out from the foul line in the second overtime as the Charlotte Hornets beat the Utah Jazz 124-119 Monday.
A few minutes into the game, Hornets forward Marvin Williams had an inkling Walker was on the verge of something big.
"Marvin told me, `You’re going to get a 50 ball tonight,’" Walker said. "I didn’t pay no attention actually until he told me again after the game. He was right. He called it."
Walker made 16 of 34 shots from the field, including 6 of 11 3-pointers. He was 14 of 15 on free throws in breaking the team mark of 48 points set by Glen Rice on March 6, 1997, in an overtime win against Boston.
"I just tried to make the best plays possible. When I had my shot, I tried to be aggressive, take them and make them," he said.
Walker’s previous career best was 42 points, set in a Dec. 27, 2014, loss to Orlando.
Walker scored 18 points in the first quarter, hitting three 3s. His foul shooting in the finals of double overtime helped seal the win.
Williams added 19 points, Frank Kaminsky scored 17, Cody Zeller 14 and Nicholas Batum 10 for the Hornets, who snapped a two-game losing streak.
Charlotte, which had lost nine of its last 10, needed a big day from Walker to overcome Utah, which rallied from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter.
Gordon Hayward scored 36 points, Trey Burke added 25 and Rudy Gobert had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Jazz, who trailed 65-50 with 6:11 remaining in the third quarter.
But Utah rallied, twice taking two-point leads in the fourth quarter, the last at 90-88 with 2:43 left on Rodney Hood’s jumper. Burke’s 3-pointer with 13.1 seconds left made it 95-all and forced overtime.
After going up 101-98 midway through the first overtime, the Jazz had to rally again. Gobert’s dunk with 7.4 seconds left tied the game at 108 and sent the game to a second overtime.
Williams’ 3-pointer with 4:11 left in the second OT put the Hornets ahead to stay. Zeller and Walker went 6 of 6 from the free throw over the final 11.1 seconds clinched it.
"When you get it going like that, the basket gets awful big," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "We did a better job on him as the game went on, but he’s one of those guys that even if you are doing a good job on him, he’s capable of scoring. He had a big night, obviously."
Jazz: Forward/center Derrick Favors, the team’s No. 2 scorer (16.8 per game) and rebounder (8.6 per game), missed his 14th consecutive game due to back problems. . Trevor Booker had 12 points and Rodney Hood 11.
Hornets: Guard Jeremy Lamb missed his third straight game while recovering from a right great toe strain. . Walker nearly had a triple-double, with nine rebounds and eight assists.
The Hornets’ recent struggles prompted coach Steve Clifford to shake up the substitution rotation for Monday’s game. Kaminsky was the first player off the bench, subbing for P.J. Hairston at the 4:49 mark in the first quarter, with Jeremy Lin coming in for Batum a minute later.
At the start of the second quarter, Charlotte brought in Spencer Hawes (for Zeller), while Batum subbed for Walker and Hairston for Williams. However, less than four minutes later, Troy Daniels came in for Hairston.
Both the Hornets and Jazz have players and coaches who spent the collegiate careers playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
For Charlotte, three players – Hairston, Williams and Tyler Hansbrough – all played at North Carolina.
Utah’s ACC connections are even more extensive – Snyder and assistant coach Antonio Lang both played at Duke, as did Hood; Favors played at Georgia Tech and Booker at Clemson.
Jazz: Visit the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
Hornets: Visit Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.