CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Bobcats got off to a fast start, and the Sacramento Kings were never quite able to catch up.
Walker scored 24 points and the Bobcats used a big first quarter to beat the Kings 95-87 on Tuesday night, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Gerald Henderson added 20 points and reserve Ramon Sessions scored 16 for the Bobcats, who went 8 for 17 from 3-point range. Walker also had five assists in his 10th game with at least 20 points.
“I’ve been working hard since this summer,” Walker said. “I’ve put in a lot of time. I started off slow shooting the basketball (this season), but hopefully now I can hit a groove. I’ve been feeling great and I’ve been shooting a lot.”
Henderson says when the Bobcats start hitting 3-pointers, the defense is in for a long night.
“It makes us tough to guard,” he said. “You have to come out there and guard the 3-point line with guys that can get to the basket, so it’s a tough thing. If we’re knocking down the 3-ball that opens up a lot for us.”
DeMarcus Cousins had 30 points and 17 rebounds for Sacramento, which shot 37.5 percent from the field. The Kings have dropped three of four.
“We came out slow,” Cousins said. “The effort wasn’t there. It was a terrible start. That start really put us behind and we were digging ourselves out of a hole the rest of the game.”
Kings forward Rudy Gay scored four points on 1-of-6 shooting in his worst game since he was acquired in a seven-player trade with Toronto on Dec. 9. He departed with 5:23 left in the third quarter due to right knee stiffness.
“He was complaining at halftime about his knee, I believe,” coach Mike Malone said. “He wanted to go out and give it a shot in the third quarter. He gave us some minutes and wasn’t moving real well out there so we decided to shut him down.”
Gay had 24 points in his first game with Sacramento, and then scored 26 to help the Kings beat Houston 106-91 on Sunday.
The Bobcats jumped on the Kings right from the start. Ben Gordon made a 3-pointer and Sessions had a layup to make it 35-22 after one.
“Everyone says that the NBA is a fourth-quarter league,” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. “Statistically it’s a first-quarter league. Our readiness, out of the gate, was good. We were able to play from ahead and having that cushion early was the difference.”
Charlotte carried the 13-point lead into halftime, but the Kings rallied in the third. Cousins and Ben McLemore each made two foul shots down the stretch to help Sacramento close to 78-72 heading to the fourth.
The Bobcats were clinging to a two-point lead when Josh McRoberts had a hook shot, Sessions made a layup and Al Jefferson scored to make it 86-78 Charlotte with 6:36 left.
“Tonight I think we did a better job of finishing the game,” Henderson said. “Against some of the really, really good teams in the league, we have struggled with that. I think we’re getting better at it.”
While Charlotte found success in finishing, Sacramento struggled to recover from the bad start.
“I don’t know what it was,” Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas said. “They were scoring and getting whatever they wanted. We didn’t play good defense and that’s what got us in that hole.”
Jefferson finished with 10 points and nine rebounds as Charlotte snapped a four-game losing streak against Sacramento. It was the Bobcats’ first win over the Kings since Feb. 25, 2011.
Thomas had 21 points on 8-for-23 shooting. Cousins was 9 for 13 from the field and 12 for 15 at the line in his sixth double-double in his last seven games.
NOTES: Walker went 4 for 8 from 3-point range. ... Each team had 42 rebounds.