NBA: Hornets battle for second win in a row
TORONTO (AP) — Kemba Walker made the big shot for the Charlotte Hornets — again.
A night after hitting his third winning shot of the season, Walker scored 29 points to help the Hornets beat the Toronto Raptors 103-95 on Thursday night for their fourth straight victory.
Walker made a jumper from just inside the 3-point line with 19.6 seconds to give the Hornets a six-point lead. The point guard also had eight assists and seven rebounds in 41 minutes.
“We’re asking a lot of him,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said, “Luckily he’s young, highly competitive and likes to play big minutes.”
Walker has played a big role in the four-game winning streak. He had 30 points in a victory over Orlando, 33 against Boston and 31 more Wednesday night against New Orleans, when he made the go-ahead basket with 1.4 seconds left.
“I’m just taking the opportunities that the defense gives me,” Walker said. “When I see my opportunity I’m just making the play.”
He fell a point shy of joining Glen Rice as only players in Charlotte’s NBA history with four straight 30-point games.
Gerald Henderson scored a season-high 31 points for the Hornets, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 24 points, seven assists and seven rebounds. Lou Williams added 15 points, and Greivis Vasquez had 11.
Coming home off a six-game trip did nothing to cure the Raptors’ woes, losers of a season-high four consecutive games.
“Tonight, we sucked as a team,” Lowry said. “We have to figure it out soon.”
Toronto cut it to 99-95 with 42.3 seconds remaining on Patrick Patterson’s tip-in, but couldn’t get any closer.
“Our lack of intensity, our lack of focus and our lack of will out there is as baffling to me as it is anyone else on the team,” Patterson said.
After Lowry trimmed it to 87-84 with 4:47 remaining on an off-balance layup, Charlotte responded by scoring six straight points to take a seven-point lead with 3:21 left.
Hornets: Clifford received a technical foul after time expired in the second quarter for arguing a non-foul call, allowing Lowry to begin the third quarter at the free throw line. Lowry sunk the free throw to put Toronto ahead 53-50. … The Hornets held the Raptors to 39.8 percent shooting from the field, their fifth-worst mark of the season.
Raptors: Tyler Hansbrough nailed the first 3-pointer of his career with 10:10 remaining in the second quarter. Hansbrough missed all 15 of his previous attempts. … Lowry, in Toronto’s first home game since he was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for December, received a thunderous ovation from the sellout crowd after he was honored on the arena video board.
Hornets guard Lance Stephenson missed his 13th consecutive game with a pelvic sprain. … Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan sat out for the 19th straight game because of a groin tear.