Anyone worried about a letdown game from the Spurs after their emotional victory over the Warriors Saturday night would have been dead wrong...if the game ended after the first quarter. Alas, there were three more quarters to play and the Hornets brought their A-game for every single one of them. An inspired effort by Charlotte in the final 36 minutes, along with a game-high 29 points from Jeremy Lin, boosted the home team to a stunning 91-88 comeback victory over the Spurs.
The Spurs came out firing on all cylinders from the opening tip, showing the same focus and intensity they did Saturday night. Tony Parker was a one-man wrecking crew, getting wherever he wanted on the floor and posting 12 points and 3 assists in the frame. The game began to get out of hand halfway through the quarter. The Hornets were completely overwhelmed by San Antonio's swarming defense. The Spurs had more steals in the first quarter than the Hornets had made field goals. A buzzer-beater by Jeremy Lamb was waved off, and the Spurs led 28-7 after 1. And no, that is not a typo.
Charlotte, clearly determined to keep the home fans around past halftime, played inspired ball to start the second quarter. Jeremy Lin was the Hornets' MVP of the frame, scoring a four-point play right off the bat en route to a 12 point frame of his own. Nicolas Batum played a solid half as the Frenchman pitched in 9 points. The Spurs' second unit was careless with the ball while Charlotte cranked up the intensity on defense. Easy buckets in transition sparked a 9-0 Hornets run. What threatened to be a laugher early on suddenly became a competitive contest. Things settled down when the starters checked back in as Tony, Tim Duncan, and LaMarcus Aldridge continued their sharp play. Tony's 14, Tim's 11, and LMA's 8 were enough to quell the surging Hornets and give the Spurs a 51-36 halftime lead.
The third period began as a continuation of the second. Once again Charlotte was out-hustling the Spurs on the offensive glass and in transition, and once again the Spurs used a combination of veteran poise and star power to keep the home team at bay. Kawhi Leonard, Timmy, and LaMarcus made timely baskets every time Charlotte threatened to cut the lead to single-digits. That is, until it finally happened. The Hornets, led by Courtney Lee and Nicolas Batum, cut a once 23-point deficit all the way down to 3. Charlotte scored 7 points in the first quarter and 60 points the next two combined. The once-impenetrable Spurs defense could not stop the bleeding and the Silver and Black held a mere 72-67 lead after 3 quarters.
The Hornets continued their inspired play to start the fourth, showing much confidence after bouncing back admirably from their embarrassing first quarter. The two-headed Jeremy-attack of Lamb and Lin lit up the Spurs defense, making seemingly every shot thrown up at the basket. Meanwhile the good guys did just enough to keep it close, but their buckets were few and far between. Charlotte led for most of the fourth with their lead reaching as high as four points. LaMarcus Aldridge was the only Spur able to get anything going on offense. Jeremy Lin continued to hit clutch shots and free throws down the stretch, and the Hornets were able to hold on for the upset.