Kemba Walker played the type of game so many Charlotte fans have been hoping to see on a nightly basis since the Bobcats selected the guard in last year's NBA draft. Walker has said he feels much more comfortable playing his game this year under new coach Mike Dunlap, and it showed tonight leading Charlotte to a 99-86 win over the Denver Nuggets.
Walker penetrated very well using his quickness to maneuver by defenders and into the paint repeatedly. Although he still got stuck too far underneath on occasion. More often than not he was able to let a nice teardrop floater fly.
Obviously, there is not much help on offense in this summer league and even less with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sitting out his third game in a row. So Walker took much of the scoring load on himself, and had easily his best game this week.
Charlotte applied full court zone pressure and again used turnovers to build a lead. Walker made several plays with quick hands to start fast breaks that led directly to Charlotte points. We know the Bobcats won't be able to do that all the time in the regular season, but it's worth repeating that Dunlap has these guys working hard, and buying in. Even the bench is so much more animated this week.
Byron Mullens did not have the same offensive explosion he had two nights ago scoring just seven points. He looked somewhat bothered early on by the pressure from Denver's Kenneth Faried. Mullens threw three horrible passes from various spots on the floor that were easily picked off. But he continues to show a concerted effort to go to work on the low block. He has played well during this summer league, and Cats fans should be encouraged that Dunlap will continue to help Mullens on both ends.
Bismack Biyombo is somewhat of a different story. Biyombo has not shown the leap some may have hoped to see playing against lesser talent in summer league. His production is still in flashes and in reality, it might be fair to treat this upcoming season like another rookie year for the big man. He's just had so much less coaching and actual playing time than pretty much everyone he faces.
The good news is no one is easier to root for and he's apparently the hardest worker on the team. I'd encourage fans to still give a lot of slack to Biyombo this season. He was active tonight scoring 12 points and grabbing seven boards to go along with three blocks.
Jeffery Taylor continues to be solid. He is a very smart player. "Smart" and "solid" are almost insults to how athletic Taylor is. He and Kidd-Gilchrist are going to give the Bobcats two very athletic and capable wing defenders. In Taylor, Charlotte will also have someone who can hit the open shot and make good basketball plays. Tonight he chipped in 16 points and seven rebounds.
Charlotte couldn't quite put the game out of reach, as Denver seemed to keep the hanging around 10 points all night. But the Cats were able to get buckets every time and keep the Nuggets at arm's length. Denver cut it to three points with just over fine minutes to go in the game.
Perhaps the biggest play down the stretch was another great Walker drive to find a wide-open Taylor who nailed a three (2-5 on the night) to push the lead back to 10 points. It was the type of play that did not happen a lot last year but was common theme tonight.
Of note has been the play of Carlon Brown during the games in Las Vegas. He's played well and efficiently and provided 15 points tonight. Othello Hunter also played well, collecting misses around the rim and scoring 14 points.
Walker led the way on this night, pouring in 19 points on 8-13 shooting, 10 assists and just two turnovers. He's only turned the ball over five times in the four games. Charlotte will look to close out Vegas undefeated Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies; tip is set for 6:30 PM ET.