Charlotte Hornets

Hornets top Bucks, win fifth game in seven-game homestand

The Charlotte Hornets are guaranteed to go at least 5-2 in this seven-game homestand.

They held off the Milwaukee Bucks Sunday afternoon 87-82, getting 22 points from point guard Kemba Walker. Walker made two free throws with 18 seconds remaining, off a foul by O.J. Mayo, to open a seven-point lead.

The Hornets are 10-7 entering Wednesday’s home game against the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

The Bucks fell to 6-11. Khris Middleton led Milwaukee in scoring with 19 points.

Three who mattered

Cody Zeller: He made a key steal, stripping Middleton late in the game.

Jeremy Lamb: He keyed Charlotte’s bench scoring with 14 points.

Nic Batum: He tied a career high nine turnovers, but he also made a clutch 3-pointer with 45 seconds left.

Observations

▪  The Hornets lost starting center Al Jefferson to a calf strain in the first half. Jefferson is scheduled to have an MRI Monday and could miss additional games.

▪  The Hornets had one of their best defensive runs in the first half Sunday, holding Milwaukee to 37 points and 15-of-44 shooting from the field.

▪  Charlotte’s bench outscored Milwaukee’s reserves 34-15.

▪  With Jefferson out, Cody Zeller started in the second half.

▪  Tyler Hansbrough went into the game in the third quarter, just his second game appearance in the past 11.

Worth mentioning

▪  Bucks coach Jason Kidd shook up his starting lineup, replacing Michael Carter-Williams and Jabari Parker with Jerryd Bayless and O.J. Mayo.

▪  The Hornets honored Observer columnist Tom Sorensen during a timeout Sunday. Sorensen announced Saturday he is retiring after 35 years at the newspaper.

▪  This was the seventh time this season the Hornets made 10 or more 3-pointers in a game. They finished 15-of-31 from 3.

They said it

“I like early games. You wake up, you play the game and you’ve got the rest of the day to do whatever.” – Lamb on the 2 p.m. tip-off.

“We hit some pretty big 3s. When we were strugggling Marvin hit a pretty big 3 and hit us off.” – Walker on the 48 percent accuracy from 3-point range.

“He’s our main post presence, so we had to find other ways to create offense and I think we did a good job of that.” – Marvin Williams on Jefferson’s injury.

Report card

B+ OFFENSE: They made 15 of 31 from 3-point range.

A DEFENSE: Little-used Hansbrough added some toughness in the low post versus Greg Monroe.

B+ COACHING: Steve Clifford found ways to fill in for Jefferson, his best low-post scorer and rebounder.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell

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