Walker drops 34, Hornets defeat Heat 89-85 to even series
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kemba Walker scored a playoff career-high 34 points, Jeremy Lin added 21 and the Charlotte Hornets beat the Miami Heat 89-85 on Monday night to even their first-round series at 2-2.
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 Wednesday night 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.
Heat: Won the previous two games in this series at home by an average margin of 22 points.
Hornets: The Hornets held Miami to 13 second-quarter points ... Were 25 of 30 from the foul line.
BATUM NOT READY
Nicolas Batum missed his second straight game with a strained foot and his status for Game 5 remains in question. Coach Steve Clifford said before the game Batum's foot is "very, very weak."
SEEN AT THE GAME
Several of the NFL's Carolina Panthers were at the game showing their support to city's crosstown NBA team, including linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, running back Jonathan Stewart, wide receiver Devin Funchess and coach Ron Rivera.
North Carolina men's basketball coach Roy Williams was also at the game, along with former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo.
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