Kemba Walker Shines Again, Jeremy Lin Pushed Aside, Charlotte Hornets Survive

Kemba Walker, Elfrid Payton

The Charlotte Hornets bounce back well from a rough defeat by beating the Orlando Magic 120-116 in overtime behind another big game from Kemba Walker, while Jeremy Lin had one of his most unremarakble performnaces this season.

Walker scored 40 points on 14-of-28 from the field as the Hornets erased a 15-point deficit going into the fourth quarter. He also added 7 rebounds and 9 assists as his averaged in January improve to 24.3 points per game and his second 40-point (or more) performance in three games. It was another one of those games in which Clifford wanted to take him out of the game, but Walker insisted he’ll stay in the game, and it worked out.

Fool’s gold? It doesn’t really matter at this point. With so many key players missing, the Hornets have one thing they’re tryign to do: Somehow make things work on defense, which failed for most of the game, and let Walker take care of things on his own offensively. That’s not smart basketball, not good basketball or what this league is heading towards. But the Hornets have decided that it’s what and who they are right now, and aren’t moving away from this path, especially with Walker hitting shots rather consistently of late.

Victor Oladipo with 29 points and Tobias Harris added 22 for the Magic, who keep changing the lineups and can’t stop the losing: Five in a row and nine of their last 10. Scott Skiles seems to be quite clueless on how to get the defensive mojo going again, while his constant changes haven’t been helping a team that looked quite firm and secure on its way towards a first postseason appearence since Dwight Howard left the team.

This was the first road win for the Hornets after 10 consecutive losses, improving their record to 20-23, 0.5 games behind the Magic now in the Southeast division. They had a 22-3 run in the fourth quarter to put themselves within an inch of winning, but Oladipo, who missed the last couple of games, hit a tying three pointer to send it into overtime.

This wasn’t a very good game for Lin, who wasn’t very involved as well. He finished with 7 points and 4 assists, didn’t play a part in the Hornets comeback and victory in overtime, as Clifford decided he’ll go with Troy Daniels (17 points) and Brian Roberts (11 points). In a chance to make an impact in the starting lineup, Lin had a bad game, and the Walker dominating didn’t really help.

So, what does this mean for the Hornets? Not that good. With so many improtant players missing, it was more of a meeting with a team that’s even doing worse right now than the Hornets stepping in a new direction. Getting something good from Daniels and Roberts does open up options for Clifford to use going forward. But overall? This team is putting all of its eggs in the Walker basket, and that’s always a risky way to go.

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