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Walker’s 26 not enough as the Hornets fall short against the Spurs 119-114

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Walker’s late game heroics gave the Hornets a chance, but turnovers would cost them in the final minute.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that featured 31 lead changes, the Charlotte Hornets would come up short against the San Antonio Spurs, 119-114. Kemba Walker lead the Hornets with 26 points, 9 rebounds, and six assists, while Kawhi Leonard lead all scorers with 30 points to go with five rebounds, and four assists.

San Antonio jumped out a early 4-0 lead, but Charlotte would respond with six straight to take their first lead. The game would remain tight for much of the first, with both Batum and Walker knocking down 3-pointers, and the Hornets would lead 12-11 with 5:51 remaining in the 1st quarter. The Hornets would maintain the lead for most of the quarter, going up by five at one point, but the Spurs would score seven straight to end the quarter, and lead 30-28 heading into the 2nd.

Charlotte would re-take the lead early into the quarter after Frank Kaminsky knocked down a 3-pointer. The game would remain highly competitive throughout the half. As in the first, Charlotte would hold a small lead thanks to balanced scoring from the bench.

Tied at 48 with 4:35 remaining, Walker would score and draw the foul out of a timeout to put Charlotte up by three. The Spurs would re-take the lead with 2:21 remaining off a Danny Green jumpshot, but a 3-pointer by Marvin Williams would give the Hornets the lead back. The lead would change multiple times in the last two minutes of the half, but Charlotte would head into halftime up by one, 60-59.

Walker and Batum each had 11 in the first half, while Kaminsky scored 9. The team shot 54.3 percent and made 6-10 from the 3-point line. There were 19 lead changes in the first half.

Things picked up where they left off in the third. Charlotte looked to get Roy Hibbert involved in the offense, and after a couple of mishaps, Hibbert would score six, as the Hornets maintained a small lead in the first few minutes of the second half.

Leonard would then get hot, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers and making a number of big plays on both ends. The Spurs would begin take control, and lead by eight in the closing minutes of the 3rd. Just as it looked like San Antonio would pull away, however, the Hornets would push back thanks to points from Kaminsky, Ramon Sessions, and Marco Belinelli, and the teams would head into the 4th quarter tied at 84.

Between the end of the 3rd, and the start of the 4th, the Hornets would go on an 11-0 run. Spencer Hawes would provide a bit of offense, as the teams would remain in a deadlock through the first portion of the quarter.

The Spurs would hold a small lead with six minutes remaining, and then Walker would began heating up. Walker would score two spectacular layups and knock down a 3-pointer, and then would find Williams open at the top of the 3-point line, who would knock down the shot to give Charlotte the lead back.

A couple of turnovers would then hurt Charlotte, and Spurs would capitalize to go up by six with two minutes remaining. Just as the game looked to be out of reach, Walker would get fouled knocking down a 3-pointer, and after making free throw, cut the Spurs lead to three. A Spurs turnover on the next possession would lead to Walker blitzing down the court and making a tough layup to cut it to one. Aldridge would be fouled but make just 1-2, giving them a two point lead.

However, the curse of the in-bounds pass would then strike twice for Charlotte. First, a contested in-bounds pass would go off Walker last, then, a five count would be called as Charlotte attempted an in-bounds on their next possession. Both turnovers took away any chance of the tying the game, and sealed the win for San Antonio.

Despite the loss, tonight was a highly entertaining game. Walker showed up in the 4th to give Charlotte a chance, and while it wasn’t enough, he certainly strengthened his case for an All-Star bid in front of a national TV audience. Walker lead the way, but all five starters scored in double figures, and big Frank put together his second straight good performance, finishing with 13 points and eight rebounds.

The bad news? Tonight is Charlotte’s third loss in a row. Their next game is set for Friday, where they will travel to New York City to take on the Knicks as part of a back-to-back home-and-away series.