The Charlotte Hornets got a flicker out of their playoff chances Friday with a much-needed road victory over the Washington Wizards, 116-110, at Capital One Arena.
Hornets All-Star Kemba Walker finished with 28 points, holding off the Wizards’ Bradley Beal, who scored 40. A Hornets lead that reached 21 in the first half was down to seven in the final two minutes. Jeremy Lamb assembled a 3-point play late to secure the victory, which broke a two-game losing streak.
The Hornets (31-37) play the last of four consecutive road games Sunday afternoon against the Miami Heat. The Wizards fell to 29-40.
Lamb scored 18 off the bench and Nic Batum scored 16, including two big second-half 3-pointers in holding off a Wizards’ run.
Three who mattered
Beal: He’s had one of the NBA’s best seasons, but it isn’t reflected in the Wizards’ record.
Walker: Two minutes into the second half he reached 20 points for the 49th time this season.
Bismack Biyombo: Very solid as a fill-in Hornets starter at center.
▪ With center Cody Zeller missing his second consecutive game with a sore left knee, Hornets coach James Borrego started Biyombo. That made for the ninth different starting combination this season (Walker-Batum-Miles Bridges-Marvin Williams-Biyombo).
▪ Borrego said pregame he’s hopeful Zeller will be available to play in Sunday’s day game in Miami. The Hornets got back three other players who missed Monday’s loss at Houston — Batum (eye abrasion), Williams (illness) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (left knee strain).
▪ The Hornets have had to overcome some awful first quarters of late, but not Friday: They 40-26 entering the second quarter, shooting 17-of-28 from the field.
▪ Walker has looked fatigued at times lately. The three days between games appeared to rejuvenate him. He attacked aggressively from tip-off Friday, scoring nine first-quarter points.
▪ The Wizards trailed by as much as 21 points in the first half. It was a 13-point Hornets lead at halftime. Much of the Wizards’ misery first half resulted from turnovers. The gave up the ball 14 times before halftime, resulting in 27 Hornets points.
▪ Veteran Shelvin Mack, who the Hornets claimed off waivers in February for insurance at point guard, was inactive behind rookie Devonte Graham.
▪ Hornets guard Malik Monk appeared to be back out of the core rotation after getting minutes in Houston Monday resulting from all the injuries.
▪ Williams missed Monday in Houston with an illness, and he didn’t have a good start Friday, missing his first seven shots.
They said it
▪ “I think it’s been successful in stretches...But if we go there too much, there have been negative effects at times.” – Borrego on going small in the front court this season with Williams at center and Kidd-Gilchrist at power forward.
▪ “You have to mix it up on him. Play big on him and play some small lineups, as well.” – Borrego on the problem this season containing Portis, both as a Bull and after the trade to the Wizards.
▪ “He scores in so many different ways. When he gets hot, it’s hard to turn his game off.” – Wizards coach Scott Brooks on Walker.
B+ OFFENSE: Really good 3-point shooting on the road.
B DEFENSE: Forced a bunch of first-half Wizards turnovers and contained Portis, who has been a big problem offensively.
B+ COACHING: Fixed the first-quarter problem for one game at least; a game they badly needed.
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