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NBA -- ​Walker lifts Hornets over Lakers in Bryant's final game in Charlotte


PhilBoxing.com




CHARLOTTE -- A sold out crowd of 19,632, the highest attendance for a regular season game in Time Warner Cable Arena history​,​ was on hand to witness Kobe Bryant's last game in the city of Charlotte.

The 5 time NBA champion who is set to retire after this season was well received by the appreciative fans. Kemba Walker however, spoiled his night. The dimunitive point guard finished with 38 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists and the Charlotte Hornets disposed of the Los Angeles Lakers 108-98.

Walker scored 18 out of his team's 23 points in the fourth period as he took over what was a tight game through the first three quarters. "I just wanted to win. It was great to play against Kobe one last time in this arena but It was also great to beat him."

Lakers head coach Byron Scott said, "They did a great job of setting screens for him. Our guards just melted off the screens and it put our big men in some very awkward positions."
Both teams were red hot in the first half. The LA Lakers shot 56.8% from the field (21 out-of 37) while the Hornets shot 53.3% (24 out-of-45). The half ended at 58-all.

Kobe Bryant had 16 points at the half but shot 1-out 10 the rest of the way to finish with 20 points.
Big men Larry Nance, Jr. and Brandon Bass had 12 points apiece. Fil-Am Jordan Clarkson was a non factor and finished with 8 points in 2 out- of 14 shooting.

Hornets' Nic Batum contributed 15 points and a season tying 11 assists while Jeremy Lin pitched in 13 points and Cody Zeller had 16 points and 8 rebounds.





Hornets owner Michael Jordan congratulated Bryant, the NBA'a third all time leading scorer on his career through a video message that was played on the giant scoreboard during the introduction of the starting fives. "I'm very, very happy for you and what you have accomplished within the game. I look forward to seeing what you do next. If you ever need me, you know my number."
Jordan, a five time NBA MVP also reminded fans of where Kobe's journey began,"Most people don't realize you were drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, so that connects you with us."
Bryant was drafted 13th pick overal in the 1996 NBA Draft but was quickly traded to the LA lakers.

Jordan squeezed humor ​in​ his message, "Have a great game tonight." After a slight pause, "Not too good of a game."

"It was awesome", said Bryant.

When asked if he would follow Jordan's path of going into business and owning a basketball team, Bryant replied, "We are different. He loves math, he loves numbers. I suck at math, I have no interest in that."

Long after the game was over, the crowd was still chanting "Kobe, Kobe" as he waved to them. He said he was not used to being appreciated in road arenas. "I miss being a villain. It was so natural for me for so many years. Honestly, I felt awkward at first to get all these praises".

With the loss, the Lakers sank deeper in the standings at 5-27. The Hornets meanwhile improved to 17-13.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eric Biasbas.


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