Finally, Charlotte’s second NBA franchise is no longer winless in the playoffs.
The Bobcats/Hornets had gone 0-10 in the postseason since the NBA returned to Charlotte in 2004. Saturday that string ended with a 96-80 victory over the Miami Heat at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Hornets trail the Heat 2-1 in this best-of-7 series, which continues Monday with Game 4 in Charlotte.
The Hornets overcame the absence of small forward Nic Batum, out with a left foot strain. The home team outscored the Heat 26-14 in the third quarter to take control of this game. The Hornets got a big boost from rookie Frank Kaminsky, who scored 13 points in the third quarter to lead the run.
The then-Bobcats were swept in two previous playoff series versus the Orlando Magic and Heat.
Three who mattered
Kaminsky: He was big in the third-quarter run, outplaying fellow rookie Justise Winslow.
Marvin Williams: He rediscovered his shooting touch after two dreadful games in Miami.
Jeremy Lin: He was a major spark off the bench in the second quarter.
▪ Hornets coach Steve Clifford shook up his starting lineup for Game 3, going with Kaminsky at power forward and starting Al Jefferson at center over Cody Zeller.
▪ Clifford had expressed concern about matching up with the Heat’s size, so it wasn’t a big surprised he’d go with 7-foot Kaminsky as the fill-in starter rather than 6-foot-3 guard Lin.
▪ That lineup shift moved Marvin Williams to small forward, matched against Joe Johnson, and kept Courtney Lee as the primary defender on Miami’s Dwyane Wade.
▪ Kaminsky struggled early to keep up with Luol Deng along the perimeter. Deng made four first-quarter 3-pointers.
▪ Heat forward Chris Bosh, who is sidelined with a blood-clot issue, traveled to Charlotte for this game.
▪ Entering this series the Heat’s roster had a collective 644 games of playoff experience, third-most in the NBA.
▪ By comparison, Hornets players had a collective 241 games of playoff experience entering this series.
▪ The Hornets committed only two turnovers in the first half.
They said it
“I think this organization has been really successful in a lot of areas, just not on the court in playoff games.” – Clifford on ending a 10-game post-season losing streak since the Bobcats’ inception in 2004.
“We got one and got that monkey off our back. We’ve just got to play with that same confidence and that same intensity and I think we’ll have a chance in this series.” – Kaminsky on the first playoff victory since the NBA returned to Charlotte.
“They really protected the paint They were getting after us, being physical, closing out to open shooters.” – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on the Hornets’ improved defense.
B OFFENSE: They had a big advantage in points on the paint, but continue to struggle from the 3-point line.
A DEFENSE: Using the bigger lineup was clearly advantageous in matching up with the Heat.
A COACHING: Clifford overcame the absence of his most versatile player, Batum.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell