Hornets bust out of six-game skid with win over Clippers
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Hornets were desperate to snap a six-game losing streak, and their desperation showed on Saturday night.
The Hornets clearly outworked the reeling Los Angeles Clippers, and the result was a 102-87 victory at the Spectrum Center.
Kemba Walker scored 26 points, including all 10 in a 10-0 run in the final three minutes that allowed Charlotte to pull away for good.
This was an all-around team effort with more intensity than the Hornets have shown perhaps all season.
“We tried harder tonight,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “Tried harder. Everything starts with the right intensity, the right concentration. I mean, right from the very beginning, whether we won or lost tonight, it was totally different, for whatever reason. We have struggled to put 48 minutes together, but I would say tonight, other than the Denver game, was the most consistent our play has been.”
The Hornets (6-9) had only won by double figures twice all season, with its last such victory coming in a 110-93 decision over Denver on Oct. 25.
“We stayed with the game,” Walker said. “When they made their run we didn’t panic, we put our heads down. We stayed together. We made plays that we were able to finish the game on. That was a big win for us. We really needed that win and hopefully we can keep pushing forward.”
Walker, who erupted for 47 on Friday night in a loss at Chicago, was originally listed as questionable because of a left wrist sprain. But he played 36 minutes, and he was at his best with the game on the line.
He hit a 3-pointer to push a 90-85 lead to 93-85 with 2:48 remaining. Then he hit two free throws apiece on the Hornets’ next two possessions to push the lead to 97-85. Then came the dagger, another 3-pointer to push the lead to 100-85 with 58.5 seconds remaining.
Walker finished the night 6 of 9 from 3-point range.
“I’m just playing the game,” Walker said. “Whenever I get a chance to create space and get a good look, I try my best to knock it down. That’s really it. I try to play the game the right way and I try to help my teammates play well.”
The Hornets also got 16 points and 16 rebounds from Dwight Howard. Jeremy Lamb scored 17 off the bench, Nicolas Batum had 12 points and seven assists, and Marvin Williams scored 10.
The Clippers (5-10) lost their eighth straight.
Lou Williams came off the bench to lead the Clippers with 25 points. Blake Griffin scored 19, and DeAndre Jordan finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds. But the Clippers shot just 39.8 percent from the field, with Austin Rivers going 3 of 14.
“This was a bad one for us,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I don’t think we played very well. Overall this is a tough stretch to go through and I think overall we have played pretty hard and pretty well. Tonight we were bad. I thought we allowed our individual play, if you’re not playing well, to seep into the team play. I thought we were selfish as far as moving the ball and playing together. This is the first game that I am not happy as a coach. I can take even losing poorly if you play right, and I just don’t think we played right tonight.”
Austin Rivers said: “We are going to win games. We’re too good to keep losing. We’re going to get guys back. But even without guys, I’m tired of waiting on someone else to get back. We should be winning games anyway, but we’re not. We’ve got to figure something out.”
NOTES: Both teams were playing on the second night of back-to-backs. The Hornets lost at Chicago 123-120 on Friday and the Clippers fell at Cleveland 118-113 in overtime. ... Hornets G Kemba Walker’s 47 points at Chicago were a franchise record for most points scored in a road game. ... The Hornets were without G Julyan Stone (strained left hamstring). ... The Clippers were without G Patrick Beverley (sore right knee), F Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute) and PG Milos Teodosic (strained left foot). ... The Clippers are now 0-5 this season against Eastern Conference opponents. ... The Hornets hadn’t beaten the Clippers since 2014, losing six straight in that span. ... Hornets coach Steve Clifford changed his rotation, playing PG Michael Carter-Williams 14 minutes and giving G Malik Monk a DNP-CD. ... The Clippers were playing the second game on a five-game road trip. They will play at New York on Monday. ... The Hornets were opening a three-game home stand. They will host Minnesota on Monday.