Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets bench has Kemba Walker’s back in win against Denver Nuggets

Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb, right, rips a rebound away from Denver Nuggets forward/center Mason Plumlee, left, during the second half of Friday’s 122-114 win against the Denver Nuggets.
Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb, right, rips a rebound away from Denver Nuggets forward/center Mason Plumlee, left, during the second half of Friday’s 122-114 win against the Denver Nuggets. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The Charlotte Hornets got a huge boost from their bench in a 122-114 victory Friday against the Denver Nuggets at Spectrum Center.

Although starting point guard Kemba Walker scored 31 points, backup forward Frank Kaminsky scored 22 while guards Jeremy Lamb and Marco Belinelli added 13 and 11 points, respectively.

The Hornets (35-41) moved up to 10th place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference and pulled to within two games of the eighth and final playoff spot.

The Hornets trailed 94-86 at at the end of the third quarter before Kaminsky and Belinelli took over. The Hornets scored the first 12 points of the quarter. Lamb hit a layup to give Charlotte a 95-94 lead with 8 minutes 39 seconds left, and Belinelli then hit two straight 3s. After that, Kaminsky and Belinelli combined for Charlotte's next 12 points. By the time it was over, the Hornets had outscored the Nuggets 36-20 in the fourth quarter.

“Our fourth-quarter offense has been there all year,” said Kaminsky. “We’ve been doing pretty well scoring in the fourth quarter, we’ve just been giving up too many points. The last couple games we’ve gotten the stops when we’ve needed to and just made the plays at the end of the game. That’s what you have to do to win.”

In all, the Hornets outscored the Nuggets 50-19 off the bench.

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets (35-39) with 26 points.

The Hornets were 17-of-36 from 3-point range, helping offset the Nuggets' 52-32 edge in the paint.

Three who mattered

Frank Kaminsky: Was huge in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 22 points.

Kemba Walker: Made 4-of-10 3-pointers and, as importantly, was 9-of-11 from the free-throw line.

Nikola Jokic: Nuggets center had a triple-double with 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

Observations

▪  Walker went past the 8,000-point mark for his career. He’s got 8,030 now, and trails only Dell Curry (9,839) on the team’s all-time list.

▪  Here’s how the Plumlee brothers matchup went: Charlotte’s Miles had four points and three rebounds in seven minutes; Denver’s Mason had four points and three rebounds in 13 minutes. Call it a standoff.

Worth mentioning

▪  Charlotte’s Marco Belinelli and Denver’s Danilo Gallinari are the only players from Italy in the NBA.

▪  Hornets forward Johnny O’Bryant missed his 12th game with a sprained ankle.

They said it

“We’re moving that basketball, man, and guys are hitting shots.” – Walker, on the Hornets’ play in the fourth quarter.

“Luckily I had it tonight.” – Kaminsky.

“To be honest, they made some tough shots.” – Jokic.

Report card

A- OFFENSE: Nothing spectacular until the fourth quarter. Then it was spectacular.

B DEFENSE: Held Denver to 20 points in the fourth quarter, but allowing 52 points in the paint and 48.5 percent 3-point shooting isn’t ideal.

B COACHING: Steve Clifford has the team on another uptick after disastrous result against Milwaukee on Tuesday.

David Scott: 704-358-5889, @davidscott14

Hornets 122, Nuggets 114

DENVER (114)—Gallinari 5-11 5-5 19, Faried 9-16 0-1 18, Jokic 11-16 2-3 26, Nelson 4-8 0-0 12, Harris 8-14 1-1 20, Hernangomez 1-3 0-0 2, Chandler 2-8 0-1 5, Ma.Plumlee 2-4 0-0 4, Murray 3-9 0-0 8. Totals 45-89 8-11 114.

CHARLOTTE (122)—Kidd-Gilchrist 4-6 3-4 11, Williams 3-7 0-0 9, Zeller 3-7 2-3 8, Walker 9-23 9-11 31, Batum 4-13 4-5 13, Kaminsky 7-13 3-3 22, Mi.Plumlee 1-1 2-2 4, Weber 0-1 0-0 0, Belinelli 3-7 2-2 11, Lamb 6-8 0-0 13. Totals 40-86 25-30 122.

Denver

32

24

38

20

114

Charlotte

24

32

30

36

122

3-Point Goals—Denver 16-33 (Gallinari 4-6, Nelson 4-6, Harris 3-7, Jokic 2-3, Murray 2-7, Chandler 1-4), Charlotte 17-36 (Kaminsky 5-8, Walker 4-10, Williams 3-5, Belinelli 3-6, Lamb 1-2, Batum 1-5). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Denver 49 (Jokic, Faried 13), Charlotte 42 (Zeller 9). Assists—Denver 32 (Jokic 10), Charlotte 26 (Batum 9). Total Fouls—Denver 19, Charlotte 17. A—18,353 (19,077).

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