|Kemba Walker's in a zone of his own|
|Hornetís dominance rare among smaller players|
|Published Wednesday, November 21, 2018 12:37 pm|
|PHOTO | TROY HULL|
|Kemba Walker has scored 103 points in his last two games, including a Charlotte Hornets franchise record 60 against Philadelphia Saturday.|
It’s been a while since Tony Parker’s seen a little man dominate like Kemba Walker.
Parker, an 18-year NBA veteran and four-time champion with the San Antonio Spurs, compared Walker’s recent two, game 103-point stretch to watching Allen Iverson, a 6-foot guard who earned league MVP honors with the Philadelphia 76ers in the early 2000.
“Maybe Iverson was the last one who can dominate at that height,” said Parker, who is 6-2.
Walker smiled at the compliment and comparison.
“AI is one of the players I looked up to growing up because he was a smaller guy,” he said. “To hear my name along with his, that’s pretty special.”
Walker’s most-recent outbursts – a franchise-record 60 points against Philadelphia Saturday and 43 Monday against Boston – have been special enough to create buzz around the league. Walker, who is small by NBA standards at 6-foot-1, leads the league in scoring at 29.6 points despite being the target of defenses devised to stop him.
“He’s incredible,” Hornets coach James Borrego said after Monday’s 117-112 win against the Celtics. “This is a special player, a special performance and a special start to an NBA season. Every team is locked in on him, as I keep seeing. Every scouting report, he’s the number one guy on that scouting report. They put the best defender on him and they have two or three bodies on him every single time and this guy continues to produce for us. He does whatever it takes for us to win. Kemba deserves all the credit. It’s his work. It’s his spirit. It’s his drive. It’s his will that is pushing us forward right now.
For the Hornets to succeed, Walker has to score in volume and get offensive help somewhere. It doesn’t always happen. In the 122-119 overtime loss to Philadelphia, all the other Hornets combined contributed 62 points, with Jeremy Lamb scoring 20. Starters Nic Batum and Marvin Williams – Charlotte’s highest-paid players – added zero and four points. Still, Walker embraces his role.
“I’m just playing basketball,” he said. “You know of course, my belief in God has been helping me play the way I’m playing. But for the most part I’ve just been working on my game. I come in here every night and get shots up, work on my game to make sure I’m staying as ready as possible for these kind of moments.”
Walker’s game has evolved over eight seasons. He’s a capable three-point shooter, can score off the dribble and isn’t afraid to attack 7-foot defenders, which makes him a difficult matchup at any size.
“He is amazing and he is incredible,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “We try double teaming him, we tried hard-hedging him and the reality of it is, is that you have Joel [Embiid] and Jimmy [Butler] in that situation a lot and he is doing that against two all-league defensive players. He is just hard to guard and he is really unique.”
Celtics forward Gordon Hayward agrees.
“He’s been unbelievable, especially when you’re whole game plan is to stop him and he is still going off and doing what he does,” Hayward said. “He’s playing really well for the Hornets. He’s an unbelievable player.”
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