(The Sports Xchange) - The Miami Heat effectively shut down the Charlotte Hornets’ vaunted three-point shooting. However, the Hornets adjusted, and now they are making the Heat pay in other ways.
The Hornets pulled out an 89-85 victory in Game 4 on Monday to even the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series at two games apiece, and they did it by attacking the basket with drive after drive from guards Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin.
Game 5 is scheduled for Wednesday in Miami.
Walker scored 34 points, including 11 straight in a key stretch in the fourth quarter. Lin added 21 off the bench on a night when the Hornets scored almost half their points — 44 of 89 — in the paint.
“We are not a one-dimensional team,” Walker said. “We can get to the basket when we have to, and that’s what we were able to do tonight. We’ve had to make plays, and we’ve been able to make plays.”
The Hornets were third in the NBA in 3-pointers during the regular season, but they shot just 4-for-17 from 3-point range on Monday and have made just 16 3-pointers in the first four games.
“This is so different for our team,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said.
“They’re taking away so many of the things we like to do. They’re making us play differently than what we’ve done most of the year, but we’re doing what we need to do.
“We’re playing aggressively and driving the ball, and Kemba is getting it done. You know how he is, he is just so confident late in the game.”
For Walker, it was an emphatic bounce-back after he went 4-for-19 from the field in the Hornets’ 96-80 Game 3 win.
Walker finished 13-for-28 from the field on Monday, plus 6-for-7 from the free-throw line.
He scored all the points in a 7-0 run after the Heat cut an 18-point deficit to one, allowing the Hornets to pull back ahead 85-77 with 3:49 remaining, and then he tacked on the Hornets’ next two baskets.
“Throughout the year, I’ve made big plays down the stretch,” Walker said. “That’s what I’m known for. Everyone told me, ‘It’s time to win, it’s time to win,’ and that’s when you’ve got to be able to make them.
“I just wanted to be aggressive, and if I can score, score, and if not, trust my team mates.”
This was a game with wild momentum swings.
The Heat led by 11 early and 26-19 after one quarter, but the Hornets outscored Miami 29-13 in the second quarter for a 48-39 halftime lead.
The Hornets then scored the first nine points of the third quarter for an 18-point lead, but the Heat immediately responded with a 17-1 run to cut the margin to 58-56.
Miami got as close as one on three occasions down the stretch but could never take the lead.
Lin was 6-for-10 from the field and 8-for-9 from the line, as he, too, was constantly attacking the Heat’s middle. The Hornets also got 11 points from Courtney Lee, whose offensive rebound and two free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining sealed the win.
Joe Johnson led the Heat with 16 points. Luol Deng scored 15, and Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic scored 12 apiece. However, the Heat shot just 39.5 percent from the field and committed 17 turnovers that the Hornets converted into 18 points.
Charlotte shot 40 percent and gave the ball away nine times, leading to 10 Miami points.
“It felt more like throwback, old-school Eastern Conference basketball,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Both teams shooting under 40 percent, a lot of physical plays out there.
“It was about who could endure and make the last few plays, and they were able to make those last few plays. But this is probably what you can expect, and that’s what we said going into the series.
“You’ve got two teams with the same record that split the season series. It’s going to be tough. Nobody said it was going to be easy. We just have to gather ourselves and get ready for a big game at home on Wednesday.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford