CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 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.
"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."
It looked early on like the Spurs would rout the Hornets.
San Antonio led by 28-7 after the first quarter, holding the Hornets to 3-of-21 shooting from the field — including a pair of airballs — while forcing five turnovers. Parker outscored the Hornets all by himself in the opening quarter with 12 points.
But Charlotte would battle back, steadily chipping away until finally taking the lead with 9:09 left in the game behind a pair of 3-pointers from Lin from the top of the key.
"When the first 3 went down and when I’m comfortable and in a zone, it’s usually good for me," Lin said.
Lin then provided the shot of the night, hitting a fallaway jumper from 16 feet on the right wing with 48 seconds left to give the Hornets the lead for good at 89-88. Lin then grabbed a rebound on the other end of the floor and was fouled. He converted a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left for the final margin.
Spurs: Held Hornets to a season-low seven points in first quarter. … Duncan passed Gary Payton in career minutes played (47,117).
Hornets: Charlotte held a 21-4 edge on fast-break points. … For the second straight game, the Hornets failed to reach 40 points in the first half, entering the locker room down 51-36.