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Walker's 18 points lift Bobcats past Hawks

Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith (5) aims his shot against Charlotte Bobcats' Boris Diaw (32) and Derrick Brown (4) in the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. The Bobcats won 79-77. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith (5) aims his shot against Charlotte Bobcats' Boris Diaw (32) and Derrick Brown (4) in the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. The Bobcats won 79-77. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kemba Walker opened his NBA career with a solid performance, shaking off a slow start to score a game-high 18 points -- including the go-ahead layup-- to lift the Bobcats to a 79-77 win over the Hawks in the preseason opener for both teams.

After missing eight of his first 10 shots, including a dunk on a fastbreak, Walker made a 17-footer and a driving layup over two defenders in the closing 90 seconds. He used his quickness to draw fouls in the lane and shot 9-for-11 from the line.

Josh Smith and Al Horford each scored 11 points to lead the Hawks.

The Bobcats got a strong effort from Boris Diaw, making his first start at center since the departure of Kwame Brown. Playing well away from the basket, Diaw shot 5 for 8 from the field and finished with 12 points.