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Hornets narrowly avoid another collapse, defeat Kings 112-107

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The Hornets watched another big lead evaporate in the 4th quarter but were able to hold on for the win.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Hornets nearly blew a big lead for the second consecutive night, but some key plays down the stretch put the Kings away. Kemba Walker led the way with 26 points while, Jeremy Lamb poured in 18 off the bench.

The game started with something we saw very little of in the first meeting between the two teams - a good Kings defensive play. Kemba Walker’s attempted feed to Dwight Howard was stolen by Kosta Koufos, and it ultimately led to a Vince Carter 3 on the other end. The Hornets came up with a big defensive play of their own a few minutes later when Dwight Howard blocked Willie Cauley-Stein’s layup attempt, recovered it, and went coast to coast for the layup.

The Hornets turned the ball over five times in the first half of the first quarter, but the Kings were unable to build any kind of advantage off it thanks to some hot Hornets shooting. The home team hit 52 percent of their first quarter looks, including 6 out of 13 3-pointers, the final one being a 30 foot bomb from Jeremy Lamb in the waning seconds to put the Hornets up 35-33.

The second quarter turned into the Lamb and Labissiere show, with the former getting to the basket at will and the latter scoring over Frank Kaminsky inside on multiple occasions. There was an early Malik Monk sighting, but the rookie’s playing time came and went with only a single foul to show for his 6 minutes of work.

The teams was deadlocked at 44 before Kaminsky found Johnny O’Bryant inside for a layup. Jeremy Lamb knocked down a 3 on the next possession to put the Hornets up 5 before a De’Aaaron Fox trey ended the run. Back to back 3-pointers from Graham and Williams followed by a Williams fadeaway put the Hornets up 67-55 to end the half.

The Hornets knocked down 10 of 20 3-pointers en route to 53.7 percent shooting from the field in the first half. Had the Hornets brought any sort defensive intensity to the floor in the first half, they might well have already put the game away.

Nicolas Batum finally knocked down the Hornets first second half field goal over three minutes into the frame with a rare driving layup. A third Dwight Howard block over a span of four possessions led to Kemba’s fourth 3 of the night, which forced Kings coach Dave Joerger to call timeout with his team down 73-60.

The teams traded baskets for several minutes before an MCW dunk, O’Bryant 3, and Lamb 3 gave the Hornets their biggest lead of the night. The third quarter eventually ended with the Hornets nursing a 17 point lead.

The Kings called a timeout three minutes into the 4th quarter. At that point, the two teams had combined for just 11 points in the frame. The Kings responded with an 11-4 run to cut the deficit to 9 with 4:57 to go, prompting Steve Clifford to call a timeout. 4 Kemba Walker points were able to stop the bleeding a little bit, but 3s from Hield and Bogdanovic whittled the lead down to just 3 with just over a minute remaining.

A Dwight Howard tip was goaltended by Cauley-Stein to give the Hornets a 7 point lead with 40 seconds to go. Jeremy Lamb blocked De’Aaron Fox’s 3-point attempt on the ensuing possession, and Skal Labissiere couldn’t convert the offensive rebound. Batum ultimately corralled that miss and handed it over to Kemba for some game-icing free throws. A couple garbage time buckets set the final margin at 112-107.

It was the second time in as many nights that the Hornets choked away a lead in the fourth quarter. Fortunately the Hornets were able to right the ship this time and put the game away.