CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Eleven seconds into the second quarter, Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford called a timeout with his team trailing the San Antonio Spurs 30-7.
”I told them please try harder,” Clifford said after the game with a laugh. ”I’m begging you. I know y’all make more money than me. I know most of you could get me fired. I’m just saying, please.”
Jeremy Lin answered that plea, scoring 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter to help Charlotte rally for a 91-88 victory on Monday night, snapping the Spurs’ six-game winning streak and denying them their 60th win of the season.
While perhaps not quite ”Linsanity II,” the 23-point lead was the largest surrendered by the Spurs in the Tim Duncan era, which began in 1997, according to information provided to the Hornets by Elias.
Lin was 11 of 18 from the field and hit all four 3-point attempts, including three in the fourth quarter, and provided the go-ahead jumper with 48 seconds left.
”He was spectacular,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. ”We couldn’t stop him all night. He had a great night. He was wonderful.”
Charlotte became the first team to score seven points or fewer in the opening quarter and come back to win since the Utah Jazz against the New Jersey Nets on Dec. 12, 2008.
”We turned the ball over a little too much – just inconsistency throughout,” Duncan said. ”It was an unfortunate loss, but we will move on from it and hopefully become better from it.”
Courtney Lee had 17 points, including 14 in a pivotal third quarter.
Nicolas Batum added 15 points, and Cody Zeller grabbed 14 rebounds for the Hornets, who bounced back from a disappointing loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
”We just turned it up,” Lin said. ”We just played hard. I’m so thankful to God because I’ve been struggling so much. We lost one the other night we felt like we shouldn’t have lost. So to come out here and get this win is a huge boost for us.”
Tony Parker had 19 points for the Spurs, while LaMarcus Aldridge added 18 points and 12 rebounds. Duncan had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Spurs had two chances to tie it at the end of regulation, but Patty Mills and Danny Green both missed 3-point attempts. Lee sealed the game with a steal off an inbounds pass as time expired.
The Hornets snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Spurs and picked up an important win.
”Lin was the catalyst in this,” Clifford said. ”In the first quarter, I don’t know what the numbers were, but we were just shooting the ball (and weren’t) getting in the paint. He got the ball going toward the basket. So we scored 84 in three quarters against a team right now, by the numbers, is going to be the best defensive team in NBA history.”