CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Hornets coach James Borrego told Kemba Walker he wants him to lead the NBA in 3-point attempts.
When asked his reaction, Walker broke into the widest smile he could muster, saying “that’s what I want to hear.”
Walker had 30 points on five more 3-pointers, and Charlotte beat the Chicago Bulls 135-106 on Friday night for their first home victory of the season.
Through six games, the two-time All-Star in second in the league in 3-point attempts (64) and 3-pointers made (29) behind only Golden State’s Stephen Curry, who is setting the pace at 39 of 74 from beyond the arc.
Walker finished fourth in the league last season with 241 3-pointers. Curry was ninth, but largely because he missed 31 games due to injuries.
“We trust his three,” Borrego said. “The way he’s shooting it, the confidence, the spacing around him, the movement around him, we expect those 3s to keep him in (Curry’s) area. And if we can get more, I want more. It’s my job to help him find more 3s and to create more 3s. We don’t want this to decline. If anything, we want this to increase.”
Walker, who came in averaging 31 points, bounced back from a season-low 23-point outing against the Bulls, shooting 11 of 18 from the field.
He also had seven assists and six rebounds.
“It just feels good when I’m shooting,” said Walker, who is shooting 3s at a career-best 45 percent clip. “I want to keep it up. I want to get them up. That’s just the way the game is now. For us to win we have to get some threes up and make them at a high-percentage and I want to be the one to lead that.”
Zach LaVine had 20 points on 6-of-16 shooting for the Bulls.
Bulls: Kris Dunn (knee), Lauri Markkanen (elbow), Denzel Valentine (ankle) and Bobby Portis missed the game with injuries. “I know we are throwing a lot of makeshift lines out there, but it is not an excuse to not go out there and play hard,” said Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. … Were outrebounded 50-34.
Hornets: Walker was honored with a game ball before tipoff after becoming the first Hornets player to score 10,000 points. He accomplished the feat Saturday night at Miami during a four-game trip. … Shot 57 percent from the field. … Four of next five games are at home.
PARKER STEPS UP
Tony Parker, in his first season with the Hornets, is excelling off the bench. He added 18 points and eight assists as Charlotte avenged a two-point loss in Chicago on Wednesday night.
Hoiberg felt Parker was the one who turned the game around in Charlotte’s 45-point second quarter.
“He had a couple of answer backs, got to the middle of the floor, got to his right hand and went through our gaps early in the possession and he got right to the rim on us,” Hoiberg said. “That took the lid off, they got confident and then they got going.”
BRIDGING THE GAP
The Hornets are getting solid play out of rookie forward Miles Bridges, who had 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with five rebounds and two steals.
“I’m getting more confidence with Miles Bridges every single night and every single day,” Borrego said. “He’s doing his job at a high level. He wants to get better. He cares about getting better. He’s coachable. He plays hard and I need him to get better every single night.”
SLOW START, FAST FINISH
After missing their first 11 3-pointers of the game, the Hornets went on a tear, making the final 14 of 22 shots from beyond the arc.
“We just brought a lot more energy,” Bridges said. “We wanted to focus more on the defensive end, we just put an emphasis on defense and that’s what really got us there.”