Hornets win fifth straight, top Bulls 118-103
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 28, 2018 10:40 AM
Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker (15) prepares to shoot a three-pointer after teammate Dwight Howard (12) sets a screen to slow down Chicago Bulls' Kris Dunn (32) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
By Jodie Valade, Associated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Kemba Walker scored 31 points and Dwight Howard added 24 after returning from a first-quarter back injury as the Charlotte Hornets knocked off the Chicago Bulls 118-103 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) to win their season-best fifth game in a row.
Zach LaVine led seven Bulls players in double-digits with 21 points as Chicago (20-41) dropped its fifth consecutive game.
The Hornets improved to 28-33 as their suddenly hot shooting helped them continue their push to make the playoffs. In all, Charlotte sank 53.7 percent of its field-goal attempts, and 42.9 percent from three-point range.
Walker hit 11-of-19 attempts -- including 6-of-10 of three-pointers -- while Howard missed only two shots in 12 attempts. Nicolas Batum also added 10 points, 12 assist and seven rebounds.
Sparked by 16 third-quarter points from Howard, the Hornets hit 14-of-20 attempts (70 percent) in that period to take an 87-78 lead.
They came alive midway through the quarter, when a thundering Howard dunk was waived off, occurring after a foul, referees indicated. The crowd booed, and the Hornets were inspired. From there, Walker sank two triples and Nicolas Batum had another in a 13-5 run that gave them a 71-63 advantage with 5:12 remaining in the third.
All that happened after the Hornets lost two players to injury: starting forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffered a strained left hamstring after six minutes of play in the first quarter, and backup center Cody Zeller experienced a sore left knee after 11 minutes of play in the first half. Neither player returned.
They nearly lost another, more important player, as well: Howard.
Howard suffered a back strain after playing 10 minutes in the first quarter. When he was removed from the game, he walked straight to the locker room.
He did not re-emerge until just before the second half tipped off.
But he quickly appeared to back to form as on the first play of the half, he blocked a shot attempt from Bulls guard Kris Dunn. The second time Howard touched the ball, one play later, was on an ally-oop dunk from Walker.
Howard ended up playing 28 minutes.
Bulls: Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez were healthy scratches Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). ... Cristiano Felicio equaled his season-high of 12 points by halftime. He did not score in the second half. ... Chicago already has exceeded the team's previous record for most three-pointers in a single season (651, set in 2015-16). The Bulls had 657 three-pointers entering Tuesday's (Wednesday, PHL time) game.
Hornets: Howard earned his 13th technical foul of the season in the third quarter. ... With his first rebound against the Bulls, Howard moved into sole possession of 17th all-time in the NBA in rebounds. ... In their four-game winning streak entering Tuesday's (Wednesday, PHL time) game, Charlotte connected on 45.6 percent of its 3-pointers. ... Walker has made multiple three-pointers in 44-of-58 games he has appeared in this season. His 169 made three-pointers this season ranks fifth in the NBA.
Bulls: Host Dallas on Friday (Saturday, PHL time).
Hornets: Play at Boston on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) to start a three-game road trip.