Barring an unexpected setback, point guard Kemba Walker will return to the Charlotte Hornets lineup for Monday night’s home game against the Orlando Magic.
Walker sat out road losses to the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat after suffering a contusion to his left shoulder against the San Antonio Spurs Nov. 25. The Hornets are on a four-game losing streak, which has dropped them to 8-13, three games out of a playoff spot with a quarter of the season complete.
Walker, a first-time All-Star last season, leads the Hornets in scoring (22.3 points per game) and assists (6.2). He fully participated in practice Sunday, after the Hornets had Saturday off.
“I’m good. Just get back out there and do what I do and be a leader. We’ve been struggling lately,” Walker said following practice. “I hate missing games. It was tough watching, especially because we lost.”
The Hornets have struggled to field their intended starting five much of the season. Nic Batum was out with a torn ligament in his left elbow (it still bothers him) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed several games with an excused personal absence, following the death of his grandmother.
Walker practiced Sunday with a pad on his left shoulder, but seemed to be unencumbered dribbling with his left arm.
“It’s a little sore, but everybody in the NBA is a little sore this time of year. We’re 20 games in,” Walker said. “I’ll be fine.”
This is a big week for the Hornets, with four consecutive home games (Magic, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers) over six days. The Hornets have been terrible on the road this season (1-10), but are 7-3 at Spectrum Center.
Ten of the Hornets’ next 13 games are in Charlotte. What has to change to get this team right?
“We’ve got to change our approach. We have to have carryover from (what’s instructed in) shootarounds to the games,” Walker said. “Coach (Steve Clifford) and the staff give us a great game plan each and every night to execute, and we haven’t been doing that.
“We just have to be better. We have to compete, play with intensity every play.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell