Walker’s game-winner lifts Hornets over Pelicans
Kemba Walker scored 31 points, including a game-winning 11-foot jumper off the glass with 1.4 seconds left to lift the Charlotte Hornets to a 98-94 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
With the game tied, Walker drove the right side of the lane and appeared to struggle getting the shot off after Jrue Holiday hit him on the arm, but he muscled the shot in. Walker added the free throw for the 3-point play.
The Pelicans had one last chance to tie, but Marvin Williams stole the inbounds pass at halfcourt and was fouled. He sank one of two shots to seal the victory.
The Hornets have counted on Walker with Al Jefferson and Lance Stephenson out with injuries, and he’s stepped up to the challenge with three straight 30-point games.
Charlotte has won three straight without their star center.
Anthony Davis had 32 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks to lead the Pelicans, who fell below .500.
Walker was 12 of 24 from the field and had four assists and four rebounds.
Without many scoring options on the court, Walker took nearly every shot down the stretch and finished with 17 points in the second half. He missed two layups in the final minutes, but wouldn’t be deterred from taking the winner.
With the game tied at 92, Walker jab-stepped toward the basket before burying a 17-foot jumper over Holiday to give the Hornets the lead with 23 seconds left.
But Davis, who was dominant in the paint all night long, answered by banking in a leaner over Cody Zeller as he forged his way down the lane.
The Hornets called timeout to set up their final play and there was little doubt Walker was going to get the ball. The Pelicans shifted their defense his way, but couldn’t stop the 6-foot-1 point guard.
Gerald Henderson had 16 points for Charlotte (13-24) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Holiday had 16 points and nine assists for the Pelicans.
The Pelicans built a 48-41 lead halftime behind 13 points and eight rebounds from Davis, who took advantage of a beneficial matchup in the low post with Zeller.
The Pelicans extended the lead to double-digits in the third quarter before Henderson went on a tear, scoring eight of Charlotte’s next 10 points to pull the Hornets within three.
Davis restored order when the cut down the lane and dunked an alley-oop lob from Holiday, but the Hornets wouldn’t go away. Brian Roberts’ 3-pointer in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter tied the game at 70. The Hornets took the lead with nine minutes left on a pair of free throws by Roberts and would extend their lead to 90-82 when Walker hit a pair of free throws with 4:12 left.
But the advantage would quickly evaporate as New Orleans went on a 10-0 run behind Davis.