Kemba Walker put the Charlotte Hornets on his back and led his team to an 89-85 NBA playoff victory over the Miami Heat on Monday night. Their best-of-seven first round series is now tied 2-2.
Charlotte was down early, but used a huge third quarter run to turn the game around. After Miami recovered, Walker single-handedly kept his team in front, especially in the fourth quarter.
Miami built a double-digit lead in the first quarter and led 26-19 heading into the second period. It was 29-19 with 10:25 left in the half after Luol Deng made the third of three throws. Things quickly changed in favor of the Hornets.
Charlotte went on a huge 29-8 run, capped by Walker’s 19-footer, to take a 48-37 lead with 1:27 remaining in the second quarter. It was 48-39 at the half.
In the third quarter, it was the Hornets delivering the blows, surging to a 57-39 lead with 9:06 remaining in the period. Miami responded with a 17-1 run over the next 3:12 to cut the lead to 58-56. It was 69-61 entering the fourth quarter.
A three-pointer by Gerald Green cut Charlotte’s lead to 76-75 with 6:07 to play. From that point, Walker scored the Hornets’ final 11 points, while the defense made enough plays to hang on.
Courtney Lee also came up with two huge offensive rebounds in the final minute. The last one came with only four seconds remaining and the Hornets up by 87-85. He was fouled on the play and made the two free throws that put the game out of reach.
Walker led all scorers with 34 points while Jeremy Lin had 21 off the bench. Lee was the other Hornet in double figures with 11.
Miami was led by Joe Johnson with 16 points. Deng had 15 for the Heat, who shot only 40 percent for the game.
The series moves back to Miami for Game 5 on Wednesday night.