Charlotte Hornets

Walker, Jefferson push Hornets to fourth consecutive victory

Hornets guard Kemba Walker, left, passes around Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns in the first half Monday. Walker finished with 34 points. Towns had 28 and 14 rebounds.
Hornets guard Kemba Walker, left, passes around Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns in the first half Monday. Walker finished with 34 points. Towns had 28 and 14 rebounds. AP

This was a night when the Charlotte Hornets’ co-captains led the way.

You’d expect that from point guard Kemba Walker, who had his third consecutive game of 30 or more points. The bonus was the post-up work of reserve center Al Jefferson, who reached 20 points in a game for the first time since November in the Hornets’ 108-103 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Hornets (34-28) gave up all of a 14-point lead in the first half and struggled to contain Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (28 points) and Andrew Wiggins (25). But the Timberwolves’ bench couldn’t hold up, failing to score a single point in the first half.

Walker (34 points) matched his career high with six 3-pointers made. The Hornets won their fourth in a row and 12th in the past 15.

Their next game is Wednesday, at home against the New Orleans Pelicans.

[Box score: Timberwolves vs. Hornets]

Three who mattered

Walker: He made six of nine attempts from 3-point range and added seven rebounds and six assists.

Towns: He should be Rookie of the Year by unanimous proclamation

Jefferson: Continues to get his rhythm back coming off the bench.

Observations

▪  Walker was beaten out by Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James for Eastern Conference Player of the Week. In the three games that applied, Walker averaged 29.7 points and seven assists, and shot 52 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3-point range.

▪  Jefferson is a big fan of Towns, the favorite for NBA Rookie of the Year. Jefferson said Towns is a center with the skill set of a small forward.

▪  The Hornets have had 10 sellouts this season. Their record at Time Warner Cable Arena for a season is 11.

▪  Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell said pre-game that it’s a huge advantage to Jefferson to be playing mostly against opposing teams’ backups.

▪  In the first quarter Marvin Williams blocked Zach LaVine’s shot and had the presence and body control to redirect the ball back into LaVine and out of bounds. Might be as athletic as anything a Hornet does this season.

Worth mentioning

▪  While center Spencer Hawes (sore lower back) has started shooting, coach Steve Clifford said Hawes is still “a ways away” from playing.

▪  Starters scored every one of Minnesota’s points in the first half. Timberwolves bench was outscored 16-0.

▪  Cody Zeller struggled first half to contain Towns without fouling and fouled out in the final minute.

Hornets center Spencer Hawes, still out with a back strain, does some light shooting pre-game Monday.

Report card

B+ OFFENSE: Good inside-outside balance between Jefferson and Walker. Another game of 10 or more 3s.

C DEFENSE: Towns did pretty much whatever he wanted inside and outside the lane.

B COACHING: These games against teams with poor records, but a lot of young talent, are tricky.

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

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