The scene was set for a magical night At The Hive. It was a packed house. Seven members of Charlotte’s 30th Anniversary team were in the building. And Kemba Walker was having a career night. It seemed like this was the day Charlotte would finally defeat Philadelphia after coming up short twice before.
Like in their previous match-ups this contest would be close...overtime close. Kemba started off the game HOT - scoring nearly half (12) of team’s first quarter points (30). Charlotte clawed their way to within seven points after being down as much as 17 in the 2nd quarter and carried that momentum into the 3rd quarter where they outscored the 76ers 27-19 - going into the 4th quarter with a 86-82 lead. The 4th quarter was plagued by a series of turnovers and missed shots, but Walker was able to send it to overtime with 2 free throws with 16 seconds remaining.
Philly and Charlotte continued to go back and forth during OT before new Jimmy Butler hit a 3 point shot that put the 76ers up for good.
“I was really proud of their effort,” a somber James Borrego said after the game. “They battled tonight. I was really proud of the group that played the bulk of the 4th quarter and overtime.”
In a game high, career high and NBA season high, Kemba Walker scored 60 points on 62% shooting for the floor.
“Kemba is an amazing player. He’s just an incredible ball player. What happened tonight was unfortunate.”
The unfortunate part that Borrego could’ve been referring to was the refs swallowing their whistles when Walker drove to the basket and drew contact at the end of overtime. Or he could be referring to the free throw that was taken away from him in the 2nd quarter - two things that could’ve changed the result of Saturday night’s game.
“We deserved to win,” and admittedly “pissed” Kemba Walker said after the game. “I know I had 60, but I wanted to win.”
Of the three games that the Hornets have lost to against the 76ers (by a combined total of 6 points), this seemed to be the hardest to swallow, but Charlotte won’t have much time to bounce back as they’ll host the Boston Celtics Monday night.