Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker didn’t like being on the sideline the past two days – but he knew it was necessary.
But Walker expects to be back on the court Friday, when the Hornets host the Miami Heat at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Walker practiced Thursday, a day after sitting out Charlotte’s 106-97 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers with a sore left knee.
“It feels good, a lot better,” Walker said. “I’m just taking it one day at a time right now.”
Walker said the soreness started last week toward the end of the Hornets’ four-game West Coast road swing.
He underwent an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which showed no damage, but had fluid drained from his knee and sat out Tuesday’s practice and Wednesday’s game.
“It was bothering me a little bit before the Lakers’ game,” on Sunday, Walker said. “I had been playing through it, but I’ve been playing so many minutes and we’ve had so many close games, overtime games, in that span.
“Me and Coach (Steve Clifford) and trainer Steve Stricker thought it was best for me to take a night off and see how it goes.”
The Hornets’ injury report after Thursday’s practice listed Walker as “questionable” for Friday’s game, but Clifford said if Walker feels like he can play, he’ll play.
“As long as he feels good, and gets through shootaround (Friday), then he’ll try to play,” Clifford said. “We won’t really know until tomorrow, though.
“After getting the fluid drained, he felt so much better that he wanted to play last night. It all depends on how he feels, but he really wants to play.”
Jeremy Lin’s clutch play
In Walker’s absence Wednesday against Cleveland – the first game he’s missed this season – Hornets guard Jeremy Lin scored 24 points, leading five players in double figures.
Lin had 11 points in the third quarter, including the go-ahead three-point play with 6 minutes, 8 seconds left, and two key jumpers and a pair of free throws in the final 2:32 to seal the win.
It’s been a while since Lin has been in that position – having to come up with big baskets in crunch time, but it’s those moments he said he enjoys.
“Everyone grows up, playing in their backyard – 3-2-1, shooting the game winner,” Lin said. “It’s a fun time to play the game, and it’s always a little more exciting at the end if it’s close.
“I haven’t been in those situations on a consistent basis in my career, but I got the opportunity and tried to make the most of it.”
Mourning to be recognized
Alonzo Mourning will be honored at halftime of Friday’s game against the Heat. He follows Dell Curry as the second former Hornet to be recognized by the team this season.
Mourning, the Heat’s vice president of player programs, spent three seasons with the Hornets after being taken No. 2 overall in the 1992 NBA draft.
Mourning, who played in 215 games with Charlotte, holds the team’s records for blocked shots (684) and blocks per game (3.2), and is second in scoring (21.3 points) and rebounds (10.1) per game.
LeBron James’ streak ends
The Hornets’ win against Cleveland not only ended the Cavaliers’ five-game winning streak under new coach Tyronn Lue, it also ended forward LeBron James’ winning streak against Charlotte.
James, a four-time NBA MVP, is 41-6 all-time against the franchise, and had won 21 consecutive games against the Bobcats and Hornets dating back almost six years.
Before Wednesday, Charlotte’s last win against a James-led team was Feb. 19, 2010, during his first stint with the Cavaliers.