Kemba to the rescue once again.
Kemba Walker (27 points and 11 rebounds) grabbed an offensive rebound midway through the fourth quarter, redirected the offense and then hit a 3-pointer to help secure the Charlotte Hornets’ 100-91 home victory Friday over the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Sixers had trimmed a double-digit deficit to four shortly before Walker’s make.
The Hornets improved to 44-31 as they chase possible homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. One more Hornets victory or a loss by the Chicago Bulls clinches a playoff berth.
The Hornets swept the four-game series with the 76ers, who fell to 9-67.
Three who mattered
Walker: He took nine trips to the foul line in the first three quarters and reached double-figure rebounds.
Al Jefferson: He delivered a near-double double off the bench.
Nic Batum: He shot well on a night the Hornets struggled in that regard.
▪ Hornets point guard Jeremy Lin, who missed Tuesday’s game in Philadelphia with a sore lower back, was well enough to play Friday.
▪ The Sixers got back forward Jerami Grant from injury.
▪ Batum assembled a second triple-double this season Tuesday in Philadelphia. This was the first time a Charlotte NBA player had multiple triple-double games in the same season since Baron Davis did it in the 2000-01 season.
▪ Barring a complete collapse offensively, the Hornets will finish a season averaging 100 or more points for the first time since the NBA returned to Charlotte in 2004. Entering Friday night’s game, the Hornets were averaging 103.1 points per game.
▪ Former Wake Forest point guard Ish Smith, now with the Sixers, visited with former Deacons coach Dino Gaudio before the game.
▪ Lin made a back-to-the-basket layup primarily intended to get him to the foul line.
▪ Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was at the arena for a Make A Wish project.
▪ Hornets owner Michael Jordan sat courtside Friday next to former Chicago Bulls teammate Charles Oakley.
They said it
“Those guys (the 76ers), they never quit. They have a great coach who gets them to play hard each and every night.” – Walker.
“Those games like that, (where) we can’t make any 3s, we just find a way to get inside.” – Batum.
“They (the Hornets) are a good defensive team, too, but for the most part I think we missed shots that we usually make.” – Sixers guard Ish Smith.
C+ OFFENSE: The 3-point shooting left much to be desired.
B+ DEFENSE: They limited the Sixers’ open looks and got Philadelphia big men in foul trouble.
B COACHING: These are the games you survive; style points don’t mean much this late in the season.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell