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Kemba Walker’s fourth quarter explosion leads to Hornets win, 115-109

The Hornets captain sensed his team was in need, so he put them on his back and carried them to victory.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Kemba Walker scored 21 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Charlotte Hornets to a 115-109 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The first half of the game was relatively uneventful, thanks in large part to an atmosphere that was somewhat reminiscent of a preseason game. Malik Monk and Devonte’ Graham were responsible for all the first half highlights. Monk had a huge putback dunk after Jeremy Lamb put Stanley Johnson on his back with a crossover and missed the ensuing jump shot.

Devonte’ Graham took over in the second period. He scored 13 points in the quarter, surpassing his career high for an entire game. Part of that outburst was three consecutive 3-pointers made, the most he’s ever made in a game. At the half, the Hornets led 59-55.

It took six minutes for the Pelicans to take their first lead of the second half. They scored another bucket to cap off a 15-8 start to the quarter and go up by five. Frank Kaminsky restored the Hornets lead heading into the fourth. He scored 12 points in the third quarter alone, including seven in a 9-0 Hornets run to end the period. They led 83-78 heading into the fourth.

The run continued into the fourth quarter with a Miles Bridges layup that put the Hornets up seven. That lead evaporated in about three minutes. Dairis Bertans hit an easy 3-pointer and the Pelicans got three easy layups to even the score. Then the Kemba Walker show started. A Christian Wood dunk put the Pelicans up 93-88 with a little over six minutes to play. From that point on, Walker scored 19 points to lead the Hornets to the win. He got to the basket at will, hit a bevy of step backs, and knocked down clutch free throws. It was the full Kemba experience.

The captain chipped in seven assists to go with his game high 32 points. He was joined in double figures by Frank Kaminsky (season high 21), Devonte’ Graham (13), and Jeremy Lamb (12).

This was a vital win for a Hornets team clinging to a tiny shred of playoff life. The Hornets return home to host the Toronto Raptors on Friday.