Backcourt’s Heroics Help Hornets Even Series, 2-2

Walker, Lin Score Playoff Career Highs; Lee Gets Key Boards Late
by Quinton Wash

Sidebar: Courtney Lee

By Matt Rochinski,

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Result: Kemba Walker put the Hornets on his back, scoring 11 of the team’s final 13 points on his way to a playoff career-high 34 points as Charlotte earned its second-straight playoff victory, 89-85, on April 25 at Time Warner Cable Arena. Jeremy Lin tied a playoff career high with 21 points and Courtney Lee grabbed two clutch offensive rebounds in the final moments to help the Hornets secure the victory and head back to Miami on April 27 with the series knotted, 2-2.

Turning Point: There arguably could have been a handful of turning points that decided this one – Charlotte’s 15-1 run spanning the majority of the second quarter that turned a 10-point deficit into a two-point advantage, the Hornets 9-0 run to start the third that pushed the lead to 18, or Miami’s 15-1 run to counter it right after all made their case for the key stretch. However, it was Kemba Walker taking over the way Kemba has tended to do this season that will be the lasting impression that fans walk away from Time Warner Cable Arena with on this night. Having watched a nine-point lead nearly vanish thanks to a 9-1 Miami run early in the fourth, the Hornets needed someone to step up with their playoff lives potentially hanging in the balance. Cue Kemba… and Courtney.

In the game’s final six minutes, Walker would connect on four-straight jumpers, including one three-pointer and make both of his free throws as he racked up 11 of his team’s last 13 points. He didn’t miss anything for a stretch of 5:11 but when he did, it was Lee who was there to secure the win. After Lee missed a 18-foot jumper of his own with 59.9 seconds left and the Hornets up 87-84, he was somehow able to track down his own miss and dish the ball to Walker for what looked like a game-clinching three with 44.8 ticks remaining. Unfortunately, Walker’s shot rimmed out and the Heat came up with the ball. Hassan Whiteside would hit on 1-of-2 free throws on Miami’s ensuing possession to trim the lead to 87-85 before Walker threw up a desperation heave with the shot clock running out with 5.8 on the clock. Somehow Walker managed to hit the rim and it was Lee who was there to scoop up the offensive board again. Lee then iced the game with two free throws with 4.6 remaining, rounding out the final score.

Inside the Box Score: Jeremy Lin tied a playoff career-high for points with 21 tonight and tallied his third double-digit scoring outing off the bench this series. Lin had a playoff career-high eight free throws made and nine free throws attempted… Courtney Lee (11 points) was the only other Hornets player to score in double digits… Spencer Hawes brought down a game-high eight rebounds in 16 minutes of action… Charlotte connected on 25-of-30 (.833) free throws tonight and entered tonight first in the 2016 Playoffs in free throw percentage (.826, 76-of-92)… Charlotte outscored Miami 44-30 in paint points and 9-0 in fastbreak points… Charlotte had 18 points on 17 Miami turnovers… With 15 points, Luol Deng has his fourth-straight game with 15-plus points this series… Dwyane Wade handed out a 2016 Playoff-high 10 assists, his 13th career game with 10-or-more assists in a playoff contest. Tonight marked his first double-double of the postseason.

Hornets Player of the Game: Kemba Walker had a playoff career-high 34 points tonight. It marked the first 30-plus point performance by a Hornets player since Baron Davis had 33 points at ORL on 4/27/02. Walker’s 34 points tied for the third most playoff points by a Hornet in franchise history and the most ever by a Charlotte guard. Walker also grabbed four rebounds, swiped three steals, blocked two shots and handed out one assist.

Heat Player of the Game: Joe Johnson had a 2016 postseason-high 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting (50.0 percent), including 4-of-5 (80.0 percent) from beyond the arc. He tied for a team high with seven rebounds while adding two assists and one blocked shot.

Game Notes: Nicolas Batum (left foot strain) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (right shoulder surgery) missed the game for Charlotte… With Batum out, Head Coach Steve Clifford started Kemba Walker, Courtney Lee, Marvin Williams, Frank Kaminsky and Al Jefferson for the second-straight contest… With the win tonight, Charlotte has now put together back-to-back wins in the playoffs for the first time since beating ORL on 4/27/02 and 4/30/02… The Hornets held Miami to 13 second quarter points, the least amount of points scored by their opponent this series (previously, 14 vs. MIA on 4/23, Q3).

Next Up: The Hornets will look to become the first team to win a road game this series when they tip off Game 5 at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27 at American Airlines Arena. Watch the game on TNT and listen to the game on the official Charlotte Hornets mobile app.

Courtney Lee Postgame Twinterview
Following the win against the Heat, the Hornets Courtney Lee sat down to answer your Twitter questions for a post game “Twinterview"