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Hornets hold off the Suns, 120-106

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Charlotte held off a late push from Phoenix to win their fourth game in five.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Led by 31 points and 9 assists from Kemba Walker, the Charlotte Hornets defeated the Phoenix Suns, 120-106.

All signs pointed to an easy victory for Charlotte in the first quarter. Marvin Williams knocked down his first three 3-pointers, while Walker scored six, and the Hornets jumped out to a 30-7 lead. They finished with 38 in the quarter, and led by 20.

Phoenix improved offensively in the second quarter, but Charlotte still out scored them, and took a 22 point lead into halftime.

Things continued well for the Hornets into the third quarter, leading by 25 with 10 minutes to go. Then, as the Hornets have done so often this season, they squandered a large lead, and let the Suns back in it.

Devin Booker, coming off of scoring 70 points against Boston, was held in check by comparison, but scored 12 of his 23 points in the third quarter. His efforts, along with 9 points from T.J. Warren, helped Phoenix close the gap to 9 with under five minutes remaining in the third. Walker would have none of it, however, and scored 11 points in the final five minutes of the quarter to push his team’s lead 18 entering the fourth.

Again, Charlotte appeared to be in good shape to get the win, but Phoenix made another push, with Jared Dudley knocking down two 3-pointers to total eight in the fourth, while Warren adding six, cutting the lead to four with 4:35 remaining. On the next possession, however, Nicolas Batum hit a 3-pointer from the left wing, which started a 12-0 run for the Hornets over the next three minutes, and put the game out of reach.

All five starters scored in double figures for Charlotte, with Williams finishing with 21 points on 6-8 shooting and 5-6 from the 3-point line. Given the efficiency, it was arguably the best he’s shot all season.

Batum added 18 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 14 points on 7-11, and finished with an absurd plus/minus rating of +32.

It shouldn’t have ever gotten close, but its another win for the Hornets, who are for the moment 2.5 games out of the 8th seed, with Miami set to play later this evening.

Tuesday, they will get a chance to make things even more interesting, as they will host the Milwaukee Bucks, who are looking to lock down the 5th spot in East, but sit just 4.5 games ahead of the Hornets (isn’t the bottom of the Eastern Conference fun?).