The Spurs, fresh off a "pathetic" win Monday night against the ailing Dallas Mavericks, began a three-game road trip in Charlotte against Kemba Walker and the Hornets, hoping to put together a performance that wouldn't draw quite as much ire from their head coach. Coach Pop is not likely to be pleased with his team's defensive effort, but the Spurs offensive rhythm carried them to a narrow 119-114 win over the Hornets. Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 30 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, followed by LaMarcus Aldridge's 23 points, 7 boards and 2 blocks. The Hornets had 8 players score in double-digits, paced by Kemba Walker's 26 points, 9 boards and 7 assists.
It was a team effort coming out of the gate for the Silver and Black as the starters took turns making each of the first five buckets. Danny Green scored an easy layup, Tony Parker hit a teardrop, Kawhi got a difficult reverse layup to go, Pau hit a three, and LaMarcus dropped in a left-handed hook shot in the post to get things going for the Spurs. The Hornets matched the Spurs' balanced scoring attack as Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Nicolas Batum each had six points in the opening quarter. The game was back and forth to start off, with Charlotte leading by the smallest of margins most of the way until the Spurs bench came in and allowed the home team to push their advantage to five points. Then, for the second straight contest, David Lee completely shifted the momentum of the game, this time by ferociously blocking a Spencer Hawes layup attempt and then hitting a pair of free throws. Davis Bertans swished a corner three in the closing seconds after some beautiful ball movement, and the Spurs led 30-28 at the end of one.
Marco Belinelli, former Spurs fan favorite from the 2014 championship team, led the charge for the Hornets bench to start the second, along with Frank Kaminsky as the duo took advantage of some lax defense by the visitors. The Spurs offense fared better than Spurs defense, encountering little resistance on their way to another high scoring quarter. Kawhi Leonard made difficult jumper after difficult jumper, scoring 11 points in the second and finishing with 16 points at the half. LaMarcus Aldridge contributed 12 first half points, getting a tip-in and a putback dunk during a half where he struggled from outside the paint. Walker and Batum posted 11 points each at halftime, and another back and forth quarter ended with the Hornets leading 60-59.
The third frame began with Kawhi Leonard once again taking over, executing the Spurs offense and having another double-digit scoring quarter to give him 26 heading into the fourth. Both teams were having difficulty finding the bottom of the net after shooting the lights out for most of the game, with Kawhi being the lone exception. The Spurs were able to take advantage of a cold Hornets team, grinding out a hard-earned 8 point lead after spending much of the contest playing from behind. Just as the game threatened to get away from Charlotte, Kaminsky and Belinelli once again got the home team going, sparking an 8-0 run to finish the third, leaving the game all tied up at 84 heading into the final frame.
Spencer Hawes gave the Hornets 3 point lead at the start of the fourth to cap off an 11-0 run by the home team, but then...Davis Bertans happened. The rookie big man put together a brilliant sequence of plays, starting with him sinking a corner 3, followed by tough defense that forced Frank Kaminsky to dribble out of bounds on a post up, and capping it off with a two-handed dunk in transition. LaMarcus Aldridge was aggressive down low, abusing smaller defenders for some easy looks at the rim and drawing a few fouls in the process. Kemba Walker scored 7 straight points for the Hornets just when it seemed as if the Spurs would blow the game open. The Spurs response came in the form of a Kawhi Leonard midrange jumper and Danny Green draining a pair of threes, allowing the Spurs to withstand Walker's late-game heroics to escape Charlotte with a narrow victory.