Jeremy Lin and Kemba Walker star as Hornets level playoff series against Miami
Walker has first ever 30-point postseason game as Charlotte win back-to-back playoff games for first time since 2002
The Charlotte Hornets are right back in the NBA playoff after Jeremy Lin and Kemba Walker starred in a 89-85 win to tie the series against Miami Heat 2-2.
Walker had 34 points – his first ever 30-point post-season game – and Lin 21 and 3 assists to drive the Hornets to a narrow hard-fought win.
The Hornets were +20 with Lin on the floor and -13 with him off, according to ESPN Stats.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 26, 2016
The Hornets hadn’t won a playoff game in 14 years before their first in this series at the weekend.
Walker scored 11 straight Charlotte points in the fourth quarter after Miami had cut the lead to two with 6:07 left. Courtney Lee sank two free throws with 4.6 seconds left after being fouled on an offensive rebound to seal the win.
Lee finished with 11 points and helped hold Dwyane Wade to 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
“We fought so hard tonight,” Lin said. “Up 18 and then all of sudden up one. We put everything out there and I’m glad we got the win.”
Game 5 is Thursday morning (Hong Kong time) in Miami.
Joe Johnson led Miami with 16 points, while Luol Deng had 15.
Charlotte dominated in the paint for the second straight game, outscoring Miami 44-30.
Miami pulled to 76-75 when Gerald Green knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing midway through the final quarter.
Walker took over from there.
The runner-up for the league’s Most Improved Player buried a pull-up jumper from 18 feet and sank both foul shots after drawing a fourth foul on Wade on a drive. Walker made a 3-pointer from the left wing, added a floater in the lane and another pull-up jumper to push the lead to 87-80.
The Heat kept battling back, though, with Wade’s jumper and a free throw by Hassan Whiteside cutting it to two.
The Hornets nearly squandered their last possession, but Walker threw up a deep 3-pointer to beat the shot clock that hit the front rim. Lee was fouled on the rebound and swished both shots with 4.6 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.
Charlotte started the game slow, but battled back from an 11-point, first-half deficit to take a 48-39 lead at the break behind 15 points from Walker, who reached the basket twice for layups by slicing his way through the defense. Lin again provided a big spark with 11 points in the half by getting to the line and helping ignite a 23-6 run. He was 8 of 9 from the foul line.
The Hornets continued to pour it on in the second half, opening with a 9-0 run to extend the lead to 18 when Al Jefferson scored on a spin move over Whiteside, who played despite missing the last two practices with a bruised thigh.
Still, the Heat wouldn’t go away, responding with a 17-1 run, including a long 25-footer by Johnson with a hand in his face.
But Walker helped restore order, scoring on a pair of nifty drives, including a hesitation move that left Deng’s feet glued to the floor and the Hornets led 69-61 after three quarters.