Walker leads Bobcats past Nets

John Delong, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kemba Walker battled through some recent injuries Wednesday night.
The third-year guard erupted for a season-high 31 points and hit two game-clinching free throws with 6.1 seconds remaining as the Charlotte Bobcats snapped a two-game losing streak with a 95-91 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
Walker scored 27 of his 31 in the first three quarters as the Bobcats raced to a 16-point third-quarter lead and then held off a frantic Brooklyn rally in the final four minutes. He finished 12 of 20 from the field with four 3-pointers.
Walker, who came into the game leading the Bobcats in scoring at 14.6, averaged just 9.0 points in his previous five games and was just 4 of 13 from the field in a loss at Chicago on Monday.
"He was really aggressive tonight," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. "I'm not making excuses for him, but the other night in Chicago he had sore ribs and he's been banged up. But tonight you could tell from the get-go he was on the attack. When he's on the attack, that's when he's at his best."
Walker shrugged off questions about his health and said that he has simply been in a slump lately.
"I've been getting a lot of shots up lately in the gym working, so I knew it was only a matter of time," he said. "Tonight was a good night for me. My teammates found me and I made shots, so hopefully I can continue it. We just took what they gave us tonight and there were a lot of open lanes and we just took them and went to the basket and were able to score."
The win moved the Bobcats to 6-6 for the season, impressive because most of it has come without center Al Jefferson. Jefferson missed his ninth game in 12 outings on Wednesday night because of a bone bruise in his right ankle.
"To be 6-6 with the schedule we've played, playing without Al in nine of those games, I think speaks well for the job that these guys have done," Clifford said. "And we're playing a lot of young guys, so there's room for improvement."
Charlotte, which led 53-50 at halftime and then opened the second half with a 15-4 run, also got 13 points each from guards Gerald Henderson and Ramon Sessions.
The Nets were missing center Brook Lopez and forward Andrei Kirilenko with injuries, and then they lost guard Deron Williams late in the first half when Williams stepped on Walker and rolled his ankle again. Williams had missed the previous two games with a sprained ankle. He finished with four points and two assists in 13 minutes.
"He was ready to go and he looked good and we thought that we could move forward, but now we don't know how long he's going to be out," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "But hopefully it will be a speedy recovery. It's just part of the game and unfortunately this has happened to him quite a few times."
Guard Jason Terry was also limited to just four minutes because his bruised left knee acted up.
The Nets, 3-8, were led by center Andray Blatche with 25 points. Guard Joe Johnson scored 19, guard Alan Anderson scored 16, forward Paul Pierce was held to 12 on 3 of 11 shooting, and forward Kevin Garnett scored just four in 21 minutes.
Kidd was upset with the Nets' defense; the Bobcats finished with 52 points in the paint and were well over 50 percent from the field most of the night before finishing at 47.8.
"Our defense wasn't there at all tonight," Kidd said. "We gave up two 30-point quarters to them and that put us in a bind. The positive thing is the guys kept fighting. But as coaches and players we've got to get better tomorrow. We're going to spend a little time watching our defense and how we don't protect the paint. The talk coming out of the locker room was we've got to protect the paint and rebound, and we didn't do that tonight."
NOTES: The Bobcats snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Nets dating to the 2010-11 season. ... The Bobcats are now 6-1 in games decided by six points or less this season. ... The Bobcats came into the game allowing 92.9 points per game, good for fourth in the NBA. Last season, the Bobcats ranked 29th in the league at 102.7 ppg. ... The Bobcats have had six different leading scorers in their last eight games. F Jeffery Taylor came off the bench to lead the way with 20 points in the Bobcats' 86-81 loss at Chicago on Monday. ... The Nets were coming off a 108-98 home loss to Portland on Monday, despite a season-high 23 points from PG Shaun Livingston who started in place of injured PG Deron Williams. ... The Bobcats will remain home to face Phoenix on Friday night, then will play at Milwaukee on Saturday. ... The Nets will play at Minnesota on Friday.

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