CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Second-year point guard Kemba Walker erupted for a career-high 30 points and the Charlotte Bobcats gave new coach Mike Dunlap a win in his debut with a 90-89 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
Walker connected on 10 of 21 shots from the field and was 9 of 10 from the free-throw line, easily eclipsing his previous career high of 23 points against Golden State last January 14.
The 6-foot-1 guard, who averaged 12.1 points as a rookie, scored 16 of his points in the first half to carry a Bobcats team that struggled otherwise. Then he scored 12 in the third quarter when the Bobcats rallied from a four-point halftime deficit and worked with small leads the rest of the night.
The Bobcats ultimately won despite going scoreless the final 3:27, holding on when Indiana's D.J. Augustin missed a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer.
The victory got the Bobcats off on the right foot after they ended last season with 23 consecutive losses. The Bobcats were an NBA record worst 7-59 last season.
Charlotte also got points from 18 Gerald Henderson, 11 from Ramon Sessions and 10 from Ben Gordon.
Tyler Hansbrough and Lance Stephenson led the Pacers (1-1) with 15 points each. David West scored 14 and Paul George scored 12.
The Pacers led 43-39 at halftime, after both teams struggled offensively throughout. The Pacers shot 39.5 percent from the field, the Bobcats just 31.8 percent.
Charlotte started fast, scored the first six points, and opened up a 12-3 lead. But the Bobcats went into their first prolonged funk at that point, going 5:46 without scoring, and the Pacers roared back with a 12-0 run to take the lead. Indiana led 20-17 after one.
Hansbrough came off the bench and had 12 first-half points as the Pacers pulled out to their biggest lead of the half at 35-27. But Walker, who had 16 points in the half, caught fire at that point and the Bobcats eventually pulled even at 37-37 in the final minute.
Both teams are in action on Saturday. The Bobcats will hit the road for the first time at the Dallas Mavericks, while the Pacers return home to face the Sacramento Kings in their home opener.
Notes: Dunlap is the fifth coach in Bobcats history, following Bernie Bickerstaff, Sam Vincent, Larry Brown and Paul Silas. ... Dunlap shuffled his lineup nightly in the preseason with 10 different players starting at least one game. He went with Walker, Henderson, Brendan Haywood, Byron Mullens and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on Friday night, saying they were his best defensive players at each position. ... Mullens led the Bobcats in scoring at 15.0 points and in rebounding at 7.8 in the preseason. ... West scored 25 points in the Pacers' season-opening 90-88 win at Toronto on Wednesday. George Hill capped a comeback from a 10-point deficit in the final 6 minutes and hit the game-winner with 2.1 seconds remaining. ... The Pacers continue to list Danny Granger as out indefinitely with a sore left knee. Coach Frank Vogel said that Granger "is still getting second opinions," and there is no timetable for his return. ... The Pacers were also without Jeff Pendergraph, who was experiencing headaches. Hill played despite a hip pointer suffered against Toronto.