CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Jeremy Lin scored 18 points and Kemba Walker had 17 as Charlotte beat Miami 96-80 on Saturday to snap a 12-game playoff losing streak and earn its first postseason victory in 14 years.
Rookie Frank Kaminsky, who got the starting nod, scored eight of his 15 points during an 18-0 run in the third quarter that broke open a 53-all game.
The Heat lead the series 2-1, with Game 4 set for Monday night.
“This isn’t about winning one playoff game, it’s about winning a playoff series,” Clifford said of ending the team’s playoff drought. “This gives us a chance.”
Marvin Williams, a non-factor in the first two games, had 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Hornets.
Luol Deng scored 19 points on five 3-pointers, and Dwyane Wade added 17 for the Heat.
Miami, which shot 58 percent from the field in the first two games, was limited to 34 percent shooting. The Hornets outscored the Heat 52-28 in the paint and had four turnovers to Miami’s 15.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” Deng said. “In the first two games we did a good job with of taking away of guys’ tendencies. They rebounded and ran out when they got the lead and keep going.”
Fiery Oklahoma City top Dallas
In an explosive game in Dallas, Kevin Durant got ejected, Russell Westbrook was part of a shouting match in front of his bench and Serge Ibaka drew a technical for throwing an elbow in the final seconds with Oklahoma City’s 119-108 win over the Mavericks already decided.
Leading 3-1, the Thunder are now in firm control of a testy first-round series that got quite a bit testier.
Westbrook had 25 points and 15 assists and Durant added 19 points in a quiet game before he was thrown out following a flagrant foul in the final minute.
Going into Game 5 on Monday night in Oklahoma City, Durant doesn’t think things are getting out of hand despite several tense moments that included Dallas team security making sure he didn’t leave the court in front of the Mavericks bench after his ejection.
“I don’t believe they’re trying to hurt us, and we’re not trying to hurt them,” Durant said, also emphasizing that he wasn’t trying to hurt Justin Anderson when he swung his arm across the Dallas guard’s head. “We’re going to do some talking. We’re going to do some shoving here and there because that’s how competitive both teams are.”
Enes Kanter had his second straight playoff career high with 28 points on 12-of-13 shooting for the Thunder, who never trailed in two games in Dallas after the Mavericks evened the series with a one-point win in Oklahoma City following a 38-point loss in the opener.
Dirk Nowitzki had 27 points and eight rebounds for the Mavericks, who couldn’t get the deficit inside seven in the second half. Dallas hasn’t won a playoff series since winning the 2011 NBA title.
“Just fighting till the end,” Nowitzki said. “Fighting till it’s over. We were always thinking make one more push, make one more push.”
Pacers even with Raptors
In Indianapolis, George Hill and Ian Mahinmi each scored 22 points and Paul George added 19 as the Indiana Pacers beat the Toronto Raptors 100-83 to tie their first-round playoff series at 2-2.
Jonas Valanciunas led Toronto with 16 points, and Kyle Lowry and DeMarre Carroll each had 12.
Indiana scored the first seven points, took control with a 3-point spree late in the first quarter and led by as much as 25 points in the first half. Toronto, which never led or tied the score, cut it to 57-42 at halftime, but couldn’t got closer than 11 in the second half.
Game 5 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Toronto.
Blazers take a game from Clippers
In Portland, Damian Lillard scored 32 points as the Trail Blazers beat the Los Angeles Clippers 96-88 to pull within 2-1 in the Western Conference first-round series.
Newly crowned Most Improved Player CJ McCollum added 27 points for Portland, which snapped a five-game losing streak to the Clippers going back to the regular season.
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