);
Charlotte Hornets

Kemba Walker comes up clutch for Charlotte Hornets in big win over Boston Celtics

The Charlotte Hornets kept their playoff dreams alive on Saturday with a huge win over the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics led by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter, but Kemba Walker carried the Hornets to a 124-117 victory by scoring 18 points (6-11 FG) in the final period. The three-time All-Star's outburst fueled a 30-5 run to close the game for Charlotte to give the franchise its 33rd victory on the season.

Walker finished the game with 36 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. He went toe-to-toe with Kyrie Irving, who led the Celtics with 31 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Irving struggled as Walker took over in the fourth, missing four of his five shot attempts.

"Just being aggressive," Walker said about his mindset in the fourth quarter. "Just trying to get them up really whenever I have an open look and just sticking to my routine and take the shots that I work on, and tonight, I was very fortunate that those shots were going in down the stretch.

It was an important game for the Hornets, who find themselves in a tight race with the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Hornets now trail the Magic in ninth place by 1.5 games and the Heat in eighth place by 2.5 games. The Hornets have a tougher remaining schedule than both teams - Charlotte still has two games remaining in its season series with the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers - but they hold the tiebreaker over the Magic and Heat.

That will become a factor if they finish the regular season with the same record as either team.

Place Team Record Games Behind Games Remaining
8 Miami Heat 36-37 18 9
9 Orlando Magic 35-38 19 9
10 Charlotte Hornets 33-39 20.5 10

The Hornets won't play the Heat again this season, but they have one remaining game against the Magic on the final day of the regular season. The Magic and Heat also have one remaining game against each other, on March 26.

Those two games could go a long way in deciding which team ultimately sneaks into the playoffs for an opportunity to play the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors in the first round.

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