Jeremy Lin rescued the Charlotte Hornets on a night when they started miserably, and the Hornets rallied from a 23-point deficit to stun the San Antonio Spurs 91-88 Monday night.
Lin scored 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting with four 3-pointers, and he came up biggest with the game on the line. His fallaway jumper with 48.4 seconds remaining gave the Hornets the lead for good at 89-88, and then he tacked on two free throws with 18.3 left to push the lead to three.
"He's a very committed player," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. "He comes in and he works so hard. You're going to get his best effort every night. He obviously came in and picked our energy up tonight, in both halves. He was the catalyst."
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The Hornets (40-30) bounced back from a bitter home loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night and won for the 10th time in their past 12 games.
"We just turned it up," Lin said. "I can't even think, man. We just played hard. I'm just thankful to God. I've been struggling so much and we lost one the other night that we felt we shouldn't have lost, so to come out here and get this win is a huge boost for us. Now we have to come out and take care of business (Tuesday at Brooklyn)."
Then there was the memorable Nelly intrusion:
The Monday game was all San Antonio in the early going, as the Spurs showed no letdown after their big win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.
The Spurs led 28-7 after one quarter, limiting the Hornets to 14.3 percent shooting from the field, 3-for-21.
Lin scored 12 points in the second quarter as the Hornets chipped away at the deficit to trail 51-36 at halftime. The Hornets then closed within 72-67 after three quarters, and then they got their first lead at 75-74 on Lin's 3-pointer with 9:10 remaining.
"I told them, 'Please try harder, please,'" Clifford joked about what he said after the Hornets fell behind by 23. "'I'm begging you, please. I know you make more money than me, I know most of you could get me fired. I'm just saying please, so I can sleep on the plane tonight, please just try a little bit harder.'"
Courtney Lee scored 17 points, Nicolas Batum scored 15, and Cody Zeller had 14 rebounds for Charlotte. Leading scorer Kemba Walker was held to six points on 2-of-11 shooting, and Al Jefferson was just 1-for-9 for three points.
The Spurs (59-11) had a six-game winning streak snapped. They had won 14 of their previous 15 and 20 of their previous 22.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich felt the game slipped away in the second quarter, when his team had an opportunity to turn the outcome into a rout.
"In the second quarter, I thought our second team was basically out to lunch," Popovich said. "They stopped moving the ball. It was one-on-one, turnovers, gave up 29 points in the quarter. That sealed the fate right there. Charlotte recovered. They did a good job of hanging in and playing hard and continued to do that."
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 19 points. LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Tim Duncan finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Kawhi Leonard scored 15. The San Antonio bench provided just 18 points, though, and combined to shoot 5-for-22 from the field.
"They just played better in the second half," Aldridge said. "They picked up their intensity and they ended up making more plays down the stretch than we did. We got some good looks down the stretch, but guys just didn't make shots."
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