Kemba Walker did a little shimmy, and then sank the free throw that would send him into the Charlotte Hornets record book.
Walker, who finished Wednesday night’s 126-121 win over the Milwaukee Bucks with 26 points, did more than just carry the offensive burden, though. He had his 193rd game of at least 20 points in a Hornets uniform, breaking the team record previously held by Larry Johnson.
And he did it by halftime.
“There’s definitely significance to it,” Walker said. “It’s an honor whenever you get to pass great players and break records, especially for myself.
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“I’ve worked to get to this point in my career.”
Whenever we need him, he’s always there.
Marvin Williams, on Kemba Walker
Johnson played five seasons in Charlotte from 1991 to 1995, being named an All-Star twice over that period. But Wednesday night wasn’t about Johnson – instead it was all about Walker and a Hornets team that needed each and every one of those points.
“Whenever we need him, he’s always there,” Marvin Williams said. “I don’t know if there’s anybody more deserving of all the credit that he gets, of all the accolades he’s going to receive throughout the course of his career.”
Walker’s game started both quickly and efficiently, as he scored eight in the first quarter without missing a shot. It was impressive, but not anything out of the ordinary for a player named to his first All-Star team last season.
And then, for the second quarter, he went nuclear.
Walker scored 12 points in the second and finished the half 6-of-7 from the field, including three 3s. At times, he seemed to be the only Charlotte player who could score. And he almost had more, too, including one play midway through the quarter where he caught Mirza Teletovic on his ankles and embarrassed him, but ultimately clanked the shot off the back of the rim. It was his only miss of the half, but it was still the only time so far this season he’s scored 20 points in the first half.
“I’m just being aggressive, man,” Walker said. “Trying to be as smart as possible.”
Walker’s pace slowed some for the rest of the game – in the second half, he only had six points by comparison – but what he did in the second quarter was more than enough.
So as Walker stepped up for the free throws that would put him over the edge, with just 15.5 seconds left in the first half, that little shimmy proved he understood what he had just accomplished. After the second free throw dropped through, the half ended and Walker did his obligatory television interview.
Then he wiped his face on a Gatorade towel and headed back to the locker room. He had, for the night but also his entire Hornets career, earned a breather.