CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kemba Walker scored 31 points and the Charlotte Bobcats won for the fourth time in five nights, defeating the Memphis Grizzlies 92-89 Saturday night.
Charlotte is 4-0 since the All-Star break, marking its longest winning streak since March 2011.
The Bobcats used an 18-3 run in the fourth quarter to break open a tight game and then held on down the stretch with Walker making four free throws in final 25 seconds to snap Memphis’ four-game win streak.
The Bobcats won even though the Grizzlies held Al Jefferson to just six points on 2-of-13 shooting. Jefferson came in having scored 29 points or more in eight of his last 11 games and at least 20 points in 17 of the last 19.
The Grizzlies were led by Mike Conley, who had 16 points, but twice missed 3-point attempts when he had a chance to tie the game on Memphis’ final possession.
The Bobcats trailed 66-64 early in the fourth quarter when Anthony Tolliver got hot from the outside, igniting an 18-3 run with three 3-pointers to give Charlotte a 13-point lead. Tolliver finished with nine points.
The Grizzlies battled back to close the gap to 86-85 with 1:22 left when Tony Allen stole a lazy pass by Gerald Henderson and scored on a breakaway layup.
Walker missed a running layup and Conley briefly gave the Grizzlies the lead when he knocked down an 18-footer with 51 seconds left.
But Josh McRoberts sank two free throws to put the Bobcats ahead for good with 38 seconds left.
Conley missed a jumper on the other end and then fouled Walker as he was heading up the court. Walker made two free throws to push the lead to three with 24 seconds left.
Marc Gasol answered with an inside layup, but Walker hit two more free throws with 10.7 seconds left to push the lead back to three. Conley had two open looks in the final 6 seconds, but couldn’t connect.
The Grizzlies’ game plan was to make sure Jefferson didn’t beat them, aggressively double-teaming the 6-foot-10, 289-pound center every time he touched the ball. They limited Jefferson to four points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first half and held Charlotte to 39 percent shooting to build a 48-42 halftime lead.
Jefferson picked up his third foul with 2:52 left in the first half – a call that didn’t sit well with Bobcats coach Steve Clifford, who was slapped with a technical foul for arguing. It was his seventh technical foul of the season.
NOTES: Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson and former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad were at the game. … Memphis had won 16 of its last 20 games coming into Saturday night and three straight against the Bobcats. … Memphis is 6-5 this season on the second night of a back-to-back.