Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker reacts after making a basket against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (Associated Press)
JJ Redick jokingly bet new 76ers teammate Jimmy Butler on the bench that he wouldn’t call “game” on the final shot.
Butler responded with “bet.”
Butler, in his third game with his new team, drained a 3-pointer as time expired in overtime and Philadelphia overcame an NBA season-high 60 points from Kemba Walker to beat the Charlotte Hornets 122-119 on Saturday night.
“As much as I wanted the shot to go in to win the game, I also wanted it to go in because I didn’t want Kemba to give me 70,” Butler said with a laugh. “I wanted it to stop at 60.”
Walker’s 60 points were a career high and topped Klay Thompson’s 52 for Golden State against Chicago on Oct. 29 for most in the league this season.
But the two-time All-Star was noticeably upset after the game about the team’s third loss this season to the 76ers, two of which have come in overtime.
“I’m still proud, that’s an unbelievable thing to do right there,” Walker said of scoring 60 points. “I’m just mad that we lost. I’m a competitor. It would have been even better with a win.”
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown called Walker’s effort “amazing and incredible.”
“We tried double-teaming him, we tried hard-hedging him,” Brown said. “The reality of it is, is that you have Joel (Embiid) and Jimmy 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. … Sixty points in an NBA game against a pretty good defensive team is a remarkable effort.”
Walker had 37 and 30 points in his previous two games against the 76ers, but only shot a combined 33 percent.
This time he was making everything, including banking in a 3-pointer to give the Hornets the lead with 44 seconds left in regulation after they had trailed by 17 earlier in the game. Walker held up his palms and shrugged his shoulders after the ball went in, similar to that famous gesture by Hornets owner Michael Jordan many years ago with the Bulls.
Walker finished 21 of 34 from the field and had six 3-pointers. He made all 12 foul shots and had seven rebounds and four assists.
But while Walker had the big numbers, Butler made the big plays.
Along with his game-winner, he also blocked Walker’s shot on a drive with 15 seconds left and then saved the ball from going out of bounds. Walker thought he got fouled, but it wasn’t called.
“That was an incredible 20 seconds of Jimmy Butler,” Brown said.
Said Butler: “I didn’t think (Walker) would settle for a jump shot in that moment. So he did what I wanted him to do (and drove). I just got a piece of the ball.”
As for the game-winner, he said it’s a shot he practices often, and worked on it 50 times earlier that morning.