The Hornets went into Cleveland Saturday night looking to shock the NBA with an upset of the NBA champions. But, in the end, the best player in the world proved to be too much.
LeBron James finished one rebound short of a triple-double (44 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds) as the Hornets fell in Cleveland, 116-105, falling to 14-10 and 6-4 on the road. The Cavaliers improved to 17-5 with the win.
The Hornets had another strong game from Kemba Walker, who finished with 24 points and five assists on 9-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-5 from deep. His night was cut short, though, when his knee collided with James’ while he was trying to hedge a screen midway through the fourth quarter. Walker was down on the court for a while, but was able to walk off under his own power. He was checked out by trainers before going to the locker room, where he spent the remainder of the game.
Cody Zeller added 17 points and nine rebounds, while Marco Belinelli chipped in 15 points off the bench. Frank Kaminsky in particular had a rough game, finishing with six points on 2-for-13 shooting and repeatedly getting beat on defense regardless of who he was guarding.
Kevin Love chipped in 22 points and six rebounds for the Cavaliers, who also got 16 points off the bench from Iman Shumpert, who hit four 3s.
Cleveland as a team shot 57.5 percent from the floor, including 70 percent in the first half. They led by as much as 19, though the Hornets were able to cut it down to as low as 3 points. They could never get any closer, though they never gave up and put up a fight throughout the 48 minutes.
The Hornets have an off-day on Sunday before hitting the court again on Monday, this time a visit to the Indiana Pacers.
Update: Walker has been diagnosed with a left knee contusion.