On Wednesday night, the number 30 was a big deal for the Charlotte Hornets, but on Thursday the big number was 61 — as in the team’s margin of victory over the wayward Memphis Grizzlies.
Charlotte’s 140-79 victory is the first 60-point or greater win for any NBA team since 1998 and only the sixth in league history.
Hornets star Kemba Walker poured in a game-high 46 in only three quarters, one night after teammate Dwight Howard registered 32 points and 30 rebounds in a win over Brooklyn. Walker made history in his own right Thursday, as his outburst occurred in only 28 minutes, which is the fewest minutes a player has needed to score 45 or more points since the advent of the shot clock in the 1954-55 season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“That’s not something you see every day,” Walker said of his team’s historic night. “We played well. We knew these guys were short-handed with no Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, who are two awesome players. But we just handled our business.”
Walker had it going from everywhere on the court, knocking down a team-record 10 3-pointers and also making 10 free throws. He’s the third player in NBA history with at least 10 made 3s and 10 free throws in the same game.
“Tonight I shot the ball really well,” Walker said. “My teammates did a great job of getting me open. We just had to pick up our games because we knew Dwight wasn’t playing. I thought we did a great job doing that.”
Charlotte got the win without Howard, who was suspended after picking up his 16th technical foul of the season during his monster performance Wednesday.
“Two nights in a row it was fun,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said of Howard’s and Walker’s back-to-back performances. “I mean what Dwight did last night and what Kemba did tonight was just fun to watch. It’s deserving for both guys.”
The 61-point margin of victory is the largest win in Hornets history and the largest loss in Grizzlies history.
“Tonight we put on a performance that no one should be proud of and you can’t defend it,” Memphis interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.
Wayne Selden led all Memphis players with 18 points off the bench. The Grizzlies have won only once since the All-Star break and have lost 22 of their past 23 games overall.
They fell to 19-53, tied for the worst record in the NBA.
“They were out there just laughing,” Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans said. “It was embarrassing. The whole thing. We’ve got to just wash this one away and just come back next game and be ready to play.”