The Associated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kemba Walker had an emotional return to Charlotte, Jayson Tatum scored 23 points and the Boston Celtics beat the Hornets 108-87 on Thursday night.
Walker had an off-night shooting and finished with 14 points and six assists, but the Celtics won their sixth straight game handily. Walker missed his first six shots.
Walker received a rousing minute standing ovation after the Hornets showed a highlight tribute on the videoboard that left the point guard in tears. The three-time All-Star played eight NBA seasons in Charlotte and is the franchise’s scoring leader. He signed with the Celtics this past offseason after Hornets owner Michael Jordan elected not to pay Walker a five-year, $221 million supermax contract.
“It was special,” Walker said. “Just to be back here and the amount of love I have been getting today and leading up to this day. The video just topped it off. It made me really emotional. I was trying to hold it in, but I couldn’t. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to.”
Walker said a video featuring his exploits in Charlotte didn’t impact his play on the court, but coach Brad Stevens believed it contributed.
“Yeah, it’s really hard,” Stevens said. “He had the right idea coming into the game but you knew right after they played that video, that probably was going to be a tough start. That was really cool and a great tribute by the Hornets. I know how much he appreciated it.”
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 39 points and San Antonio rolled past Oklahoma City.
Point guard Dejounte Murray had a career-high 10 assists along with 17 points and eight rebounds. DeMar DeRozan added 16 points and nine assists.
TRAIL BLAZERS 101
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lou Williams made a go-ahead jumper with 58 seconds left, then added a 3-pointer and finished with 26 points to lift Los Angeles over Portland for coach Doc Rivers’ 900th career victory.
Kawhi Leonard had 27 points, 13 rebounds and six turnovers after missing a nationally televised loss to Milwaukee the previous night as part of load management for his knee.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum led Portland with 22 points apiece, but both got blanked in the fourth quarter of the Trail Blazers’ third straight loss. That’s when Anfernee Simons scored 16 of his 17 points, including Portland’s first 12.
HEAT 124, SUNS 108
PHOENIX (AP) — Jimmy Butler scored 30 of his 34 points in the first half, Goran Dragic added 25 and Miami rolled past Phoenix.
Miami bounced back from a 20-point loss to Denver win for the fourth time in five games. The Heat improved to 6-2 for the first time since 2012 when they had LeBron James and eventually won the NBA title.