Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker missed a layup, and then a desperation heave from 36 feet, giving the Portland Trail Blazers a 93-91 victory at Spectrum Center.
The loss was the Hornets’ third in a row, dropping them to 10-19. The Blazers improved to 16-13.
The Hornets had abundant chances to at least force overtime late in the game. Walker (14 points) missed a layup on the second-to-last possession, and Jeremy Lamb missed a follow-up 3-pointer.
Portland guard C.J. McCollum scored 25 points, while Damian Lillard finished with 18 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.
The Hornets had a chance to take back the lead with under a minute left when Kemba Walker stole the ball at midcourt. However, Portland forward Al-Farouq Aminu blocked Walker’s transition layup from behind.
Then, with 32 seconds left, Blazers forward Evan Turner threw an inbounds pass out of bounds, giving the Hornets the ball down one.
Walker missed a pull-up jump shot from about 18 feet. McCollum made one of two free throws, giving the Hornets back the ball with 16 seconds left.
The Hornets are at home again Monday, hosting the New York Knicks.
Three who mattered
Lillard: His three 3-pointers in the second quarter were huge in the Blazers building a double-digit halftime lead.
Nic Batum: This was about more than him making shots (he scored a season-high 23 points) ; he was much more involved offensively.
McCollum: He’s that dynamic second scoring option the Hornets don’t have night-in and night-out.
▪ Walker played with his left wrist heavily taped after re-injuring it in Friday’s home loss to the Miami Heat.
▪ Hornets acting coach Stephen Silas said pregame he planned to play Nic Batum more with the second unit, looking to mitigate the problems with the reserves.
▪ Particularly rough moment for the second unit: Frank Kaminsky and Michael Carter-Williams threw up back-to-back air balls on 3-point attempts in the second quarter.
▪ Rookie Malik Monk didn’t play, nor did fellow rookie Dwayne Bacon.
▪ The Hornets made just five of their 12 free-throw attempts in the first half; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was 2-of-6. The 3-point shooting was similarly bad: 2-of-14 in the first half.
▪ Bad as 37 first-half points were, it wasn’t the worst scoring half this season for the Hornets. They totaled 29 in the first half against the San Antonio Spurs Nov. 25.
▪ Hornets reserve big man Johnny O’Bryant missed the second half with a personal absence.
▪ Batum’s previous scoring high this season was 17.
F OFFENSE: They left far too many points unscored at the foul line, (10 misses) and missed some wide-open 3s in the fourth quarter.
D DEFENSE: So many wide-open 3-pointers for the Blazers’ guards.
C- COACHING: Silas is in a rough situation not of his making, but this team is not playing to its potential.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell