And now it’s all even.
With small forward Nic Batum sitting out a second straight game with a foot and ankle injury, the Charlotte Hornets had little chance against the Miami Heat without a great game from point guard Kemba Walker.
He delivered, scoring 34 points in leading the Hornets to an 89-85 victory at Time Warner Cable Arena. This tied the best-of-seven playoff series at 2-2 with Game 5 Wednesday at American Airlines Arena in Miami.
Shooting guard Courtney Lee iced the game with 4.6 seconds left, making two free throws. Lee twice down the stretch grabbed huge offensive rebounds to extend Hornets possessions.
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Walker surpassed his previous playoff high of 29 points when he hit a 3-pointer with just under five minutes left to give the Hornets an eight-point lead. Minutes earlier the Heat had trimmed what was once an 18-point Charlotte lead to one.
Monday’s victory means the Hornets will play at least one more home game this season. Game 6 in Charlotte is Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Three who mattered
Walker: His 10-point second quarter was big in getting the Hornets their nine-point halftime lead.
Jeremy Lin: He gave the Heat little choice but to foul him on drives to the rim. He went to the foul line nine times and scored 21 points.
Gerald Green: Deep Heat reserve drew the game close with a 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter.
▪ One of the Hornets’ goals was to finish the season top-10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They are ninth in each of those measures.
▪ Walker has set a Hornets record this season with 13 games of at least 25 points, at least five assists and at least five rebounds. Jamal Mashburn had the record with 12 such games in the 2000-01 season.
▪ Walker is second all-time in Hornets 3-pointers made, but he won’t be thinking about No. 1 for a long time; Dell Curry is nearly 400 3s ahead of him at 929.
▪ Upon entering the game in the first quarter, Lin drew two fouls from Heat star Dwyane Wade in the same possession.
▪ Lin scored nine points in his first nine minutes by getting to the foul line five times.
▪ Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera and his wife, Stephanie, attended Monday’s game.
▪ North Carolina’s Roy Williams, who coached Hornets Marvin Williams and Tyler Hansbrough, also was in the house.
▪ Dikembe Mutombo, one of the great rim-protectors in NBA history, also attended.
They said it
“Even with all the treatment he’s done for two days here, his ankle is still really, really weak.” – Hornets coach Steve Clifford on small forward Nic Batum.
“Both Jeremy Lin and Kemba (Walker) are keeping the ball alive and they (Miami) are so committed to taking the 3 away that it’s not really drive-and-kick, there’s nobody to kick it to.” Clifford on the Heat’s defensive approach.
“It’s the playoffs. I don’t know if anybody really feels like their body is where it wants to be.” – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on center Hassan Whiteside’s thigh bruise.
C+ OFFENSE: The Hornets continue to be unproductive from 3-point range but they did well getting to the foul line.
B+ DEFENSE: Second game in a row when Dwyane Wade didn’t hurt the Hornets with his shooting.
A COACHING: You win back-to-back games without Batum and you’ve accomplished something.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell