Two nights removed from a career game, Kemba Walker scored 43 points — 21 of them in the fourth quarter — to give the Charlotte Hornets a 117-112 victory over the Boston Celtics.
The Hornets (8-8) took a six-point lead in the last two minutes on Tony Parker’s 16-foot jump shot before Celtics forward Jayson Tatum swished a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left.
Walker answered with a pull-up 3 of his own with 32 seconds left, his seventh of the game.
A five-second violation, with Nic Batum inbounding the ball, gave the Celtics back possession with 21.9 seconds left. Boston guard Kyrie Irving missed two open 3-point attempts, before Hornets rookie Miles Bridges grabbed a rebound with 6.8 seconds left. Jeremy Lamb got the inbounds pass, was fouled by Irving, Lamb missed both free throws, but the rebound on the second was tapped back to Walker to settle it.
Walker was coming off a career-best 60 point game in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. He became just the sixth current active NBA player to score 60 or more.
Irving finished with 27 points, 11 assists and five rebounds.
Three who mattered
Kemba Walker: He had his 12th career game of 40 or more points, following Saturday’s career high.
Kyrie Irving: He reached 20 points and 10 assists early in the fourth quarter.
Jeremy Lamb: He finished with 18 points; his scoring is that much more important with Malik Monk struggling.
▪ Asked about Walker’s 60-point game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens joked pre-game that now-Hornets assistant Ron Nored, who Stevens coached at Butler, played a role: “The last time I saw Kemba play that well was when Ron was guarding him in AAU, and he was 16 years old. I’ve been wary of Kemba for a long time. Maybe Ron is the common denominator.”
▪ When he took over as Hornets coach, James Borrego said he wanted more 3s attempted. Kinda telling that both centers, Cody Zeller and Willy Hernangomez, made 3s in the first half Monday.
▪ Boston’s defense is elite, but that didn’t explain away the Hornets’ eight first-half turnovers. There were a couple of really sloppy second-quarter passes that led directly to Celtics baskets..
▪ Nic Batum and Malik Monk have both struggled with their shooting of late and that bled into this game. Combined they missed their first seven shots Monday.
▪ The Hornets’ transition defense was pretty awful for much of this game: The Celtics had scored 18 fast-break points to none by the Hornets through the middle of the third quarter.
▪ Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed his third consecutive game with a sprained right ankle. Kidd-Gilchrist has yet to be cleared for practice.
▪ Stevens made a lineup change shortly before tip-off, starting big man Aron Baynes and having Gordon Hayward in the second unit.
▪ The fast-break was not the Hornets’ friend Monday: Boston scored 18 transition points before the Hornets scored any.
They said it
“You can’t go under screens, you can’t give him free throws, you can’t waste bonus fouls. You can’t lose him in the pick-and-rolls. You name it, everything has to be good. He’s using so many of their possessions and he’s doing it at such an efficient rate.” – Celtics coach Brad Stevens on Walker’s scoring this season.
“I’ve watched him play since high school and he’s a special, special player.” – more from Stevens on Walker.
“We can’t go into games wishing and hoping that teams miss shots…We’ve got to play harder and more physical.” – Hornets coach James Borrego pre-game, about not wanting to repeat the bad first-quarter defense versus the 76ers Saturday .
B+ OFFENSE: The Walker-Lamb backcourt got fine penetration to the lane, which seemed to throw off the Celtics’ defense.
C DEFENSE: They allowed an awful lot of transition baskets.
B COACHING: Borrego trying to work through Monk’s struggles and still score enough points.