The road certainly agrees with the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs improved their record away from AT&T Center to 8-0 with a 119-114 victory Wednesday over the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center. Kawhi Leonard led the 12-3 Spurs with 30 points, but the 8-6 Hornets gave San Antonio a battle throughout.
Point guard Kemba Walker closed Charlotte’s deficit to one with under a minute left, completing a four-point play off a 3-point basket and a free throw. On the ensuing Spurs possession, Walker fouled power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who made one of two free throws.
That gave the Hornets possession, down two, with 34.2 seconds left. Spurs guard Tony Parker broke up an in-bounds pass. It was originally ruled Hornets ball, but overturned upon review. Parker then nailed a 3-pointer from the corner for a five-point lead with 22 seconds left.
The Hornets lost the ball on the next possession when Marco Belinelli was ruled not to have in-bounded the ball within five seconds. Charlotte got back the ball with 18 seconds left when San Antonio’s Danny Green stepped out of bounds. Walker made a layup, then Parker hit two free throws to extend the Spurs’ lead to five with 10 seconds left.
Walker finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Three who mattered
Kawhi Leonard: He did such a spectrum of things in this game, including guarding Kemba Walker for a stretch of the second half.
Marco Belinelli: His fourth double-figure scoring game in the last five.
Kemba Walker: He was in striking distance of a triple-double.
▪ The Hornets’ injury report was a lot shorter for this game, but it still included center Cody Zeller (right shoulder soreness). Zeller missed his third consecutive game. Coach Steve Clifford said Zeller is improving, but still can’t fully raise his arm above his shoulder.
▪ The Hornets got back Jeremy Lamb, who missed 10 games with a hamstring strain and Treveon Graham, who was out three with a left Achilles strain.
▪ In response to the heavy slate of games, Clifford changed his game-day schedule. Instead of a morning shootaround, Clifford opted for a late-afternoon walk-through in the practice gym. Clifford said with four games in six nights, he needs to save his players’ legs.
▪ In the pre-game media availability, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich called ex-Spur Marco Belinelli one of the most “clever” players he’s coached, particularly moving without the ball. Belinelli, acquired in trade by the Hornets in July, entered this game fourth in the NBA in 3-point percentage at 48 percent.
▪ Hornets power forward Marvin Williams has greatly struggled this season as a shooter. Entering the Spurs game, he was shooting 31.2 percent from the field and 32.5 percent from 3-point range. Last season, Williams shot a career-best 40 percent from 3-point range.
▪ This is the first regular-season Hornets game ESPN televised since April of 2015.
▪ Even with Tim Duncan having retired from the NBA after last season, there were plenty of No. 21 Spurs and Wake Forest jerseys in the Spectrum Center stands Wednesday.
▪ The Spurs made all 11 of their first-half free throws.
A OFFENSE: Some excellent shooting; they were 8-of-16 from 3-point range in the first three quarters.
B DEFENSE: It felt like there was no answer for Kawhi Leonard Friday.
B COACHING: The Hornets played with more of the focus Steve Clifford said they lacked the previous two games.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell