Hornets get Kemba Walker back; Heat’s Deng, Whiteside out

Heat forward Luol Deng (9) is averaging 14.1 points a game this season.

Kirby Lee


Point guard Kemba Walker started against the Miami Heat after missing the last two games because of a cyst on his left knee.

The team announcement came Wednesday night shortly before tipoff after Walker made it through pregame warmups without any problems. Walker was averaging 29.8 points in his last six games.

Coach Steve Clifford said center Al Jefferson was expected to play in his second game back from a groin injury, but come off the bench again. Bismack Biyombo started for the Hornets.

The Hornets have won seven of their past eight games and entered the night a half-game behind Brooklyn for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

Heat players Hassan Whiteside (sprained ankles) and Luol Deng (illness) didn’t make the trip to Charlotte. Danny Granger and Chris Andersen started instead.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said it’s unclear how long Whiteside will be out after spraining his ankle on Tuesday night against Oklahoma City.

Spoelstra added he’s encouraged that Whiteside’s injury is not a Grade 3 sprain, which likely would have kept him out longer.

Deng was out with flu-like symptoms.

"Most players wouldn’t have played, and that shows you level of toughness and commitment," Spoelstra said about Deng. "He was in bad shape."

Whiteside had 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting against Oklahoma City on Tuesday night before leaving with an ankle injury. Deng scored eight points in 28 minutes, but Spoelstra said the 6-foot-9 forward was exhausted after the game.