Kemba Walker lit up the Philadelphia 76ers for a 60-point night on 61 percent shooting. It was a mesmerizing display of creativity, strength and a superstar’s touch that propelled one of the league’s best scorers to a memorable night.
The career- and franchise-high night was this close perfection for Walker, until Jimmy Butler hit a step-back three as the clock nearly expired to beat the Charlotte Hornets in overtime, 122-119.
But Walker’s offensive show was still the highlight.
Walker knocked down 21-of-34 shots, and shot 12-of-12 from the free throw line and 6-of-14 from deep. Nobody could stop him, which Butler even confessed to after the game.
Here’s how Walker tallied an incredible 60-point night — 58 of which came in regulation, and 19 of which came in the fourth quarter.
1. Walker (who is small and quick) played Embiid’s defense to his advantage
Walked defies a lot of odds in the NBA as we know it in 2018. He’s just 6’1, doesn’t boast a lengthy wingspan, and for the most part, looks pedestrian compared to the NBA’s other leading scorers. In fact, he became just the second player 6’1 or under (Allen Iverson) to score 60 or more in a game.
Walker’s strong, and rim-runs without fear, instead showcasing a bit of flare and explosiveness at the rim.
Embiid, at 7’1, didn’t faze Walker at the cup.
Or around the arc.
Or in the paint.
Walker used his speed and shiftiness to his advantage to beat Embiid off of switches, and feasted on him for most of the night. (Embiid finished with five fouls.)
2. Walker’s step-back jumper caught the defense off-guard
Walker was able to switch up his straight drives to the rim with speed-change dribbles into step-back shots, and he hit those off-balance looks with efficiency. Shooting off the dribble is so hard to do, no matter how easy Steph Curry makes it look, and Walker’s one of the few in the league who should get the green light to take those shots routinely.
He used the step-back to create space from Butler in the paint.
And from the arc.
Look how perfectly his legs compensate from the off-rhythm nature of a shot that comes off of steps backwards. Walker shoots these with as good form as these shots get.
3. Walker made the defense pay on every open look
Some nights it’s your night, and that was the case for Walker. He drained seemingly every open jumper from range, especially in the second half.
The threes came pouring in.
Off the catch:
And off the bounce:
Walker’s night was a historic one, even in a loss. It highlighted the idea that he’s at or near the same ranks as the Damian Lillards and Kyrie Irvings of the NBA, and Charlotte should be taking note while they have him. It might be time to make a move for a co-star.
This didn’t fit into the shooting categories, but look how glorious this shot fake was.