CHARLOTTE • Shortly after leading the Hornets to a 106-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the National Basketball Association on Wednesday, Charlotte guard Jeremy Lin attempted to throw a towel into a laundry bin in the locker room - and flat-out missed.
It was one of the few times he missed anything all night.
With starting point guard and leading scorer Kemba Walker sidelined due to a sore left knee, the Hornets needed Lin to step up in Walker's place.
He obliged in a big way, helping the Hornets end years of misery against LeBron James while totalling a team-high 24 points plus eight assists and five rebounds.
Forward Marvin Williams added 16 points for Charlotte (24-25).
It was Charlotte's first win over a team that included James since Feb 19, 2010, when the forward was in his first stint with the Cavaliers. James went on to play on the winning side against the Hornets while with the Miami Heat and Cleveland for the next 21 games in a row, including play-offs.
"In the very beginning of the game, I was trying to be aggressive, but at the same time run the team," Lin said. "Kemba, honestly, is irreplaceable. We all know that. We feel like if everyone can chip in a little bit, we can try to make up for his absence."
Centre Frank Kaminsky had 15 points and six rebounds for Charlotte, while forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist contributed 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Guard Kyrie Irving led the Cavs (35-13) with 26 points. James added 23, and forward Kevin Love had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The second quarter featured 11 ties or lead changes before the Cavs closed by scoring the last nine points to take a 58-49 half-time lead.
Lin was instrumental in turning the tide in Charlotte's favour in the third quarter. His three-point play on a driving lay-up and subsequent free throw after drawing a foul gave the Hornets a 70-69 lead, and he followed that up with a beautiful dish to Kidd-Gilchrist for a fast-break dunk.
Then Lin hit a pair of three-pointers - the last coming with 34.8 seconds left in the quarter - to give the home team an 82-75 advantage entering the fourth. The Hornets never trailed again.
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue lamented the lack of rebounding by his team and admitted to being somewhat mystified by yet another slow start to the second half after the Cavs closed the first half on a solid run. They were also out-rebounded for the game by a staggering 49-28 margin.
"That's the third game in a row where we have struggled to come out in the third quarter and made a slow start in the second half," he said. "We have to do something to adjust that situation."
James was more descriptive about the Cavaliers' effort in the third quarter, when the Hornets outscored them 33-17 to take control of the game.
"We were (expletive) in the third," he said.