CHARLOTTE (North Carolina) • Jeremy Lin scored 18 points to lead a balanced Charlotte attack on Saturday as the Hornets beat the Miami Heat 96-80 for their first National Basketball Association play-off victory in 14 years.
After two deflating defeats in Miami, the Hornets fed off their home crowd to trim the deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series to 1-2.
"By far the best game of the season in terms of the crowd," Lin said of the fans at Time Warner Cable Arena, where the Hornets went 30-11 during the regular season.
"(The crowd) was jumping from the start, from the warm-ups."
Lin and Co. gave them plenty to celebrate. The guard came off the bench to outscore the entire cast of Miami reserves by five points.
BUZZING FROM THE GET-GO
I felt like we did a good job communicating from the jump. It's all going to start on defence.
JEREMY LIN, Charlotte Hornets guard, on the key reason behind his side's NBA play-offs Game Three win over the Miami Heat.
He had 13 points by half-time - a play-off career-high for points in a half - as Charlotte led by five.
The Hornets then held the Heat scoreless for almost seven minutes in an 18-0 scoring run in the third quarter that built their lead to 71-53.
Even Hornets owner and basketball legend Michael Jordan was on his feet with 3min 46sec left in the third period after Lin knocked down a 26-foot three-pointer.
The cushion grew to as many as 24 points in the fourth quarter as six Charlotte players finished in double figures.
It was a complete reversal from the Heat's 106-80 home win in Game One and a 115-103 win in Game Two.
"I felt like we did a good job communicating from the jump." added Lin, who also recorded four assists, four rebounds and a steal. "It's all going to start on defence."
The guard did his part in limiting Miami point guard Goran Dragic to 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field.
The Heat, who combined to shoot 57.8 per cent in winning the first two games in Miami, hit 10 of their first 15 shots but then struggled to find the basket after that.
They missed nine straight attempts during Charlotte's 18-0 run, connecting on 34.2 per cent from the field for the game.
Luol Deng led the Heat with 19 points. Dwyane Wade scored 17 and Hassan Whiteside added 13 points and 18 rebounds.
Kemba Walker contributed 17 points for the Hornets and rookie Frank Kaminsky added 15.
Marvin Williams notched a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Charlotte set a club post-season record for fewest turnovers with four.
They will try to build on the momentum of their first post-season win since they reached the Eastern Conference semi-finals in the 2001-02 season.
The Hornets had been swept in two play-off series since.
Game 4 is at Charlotte tonight (tomorrow morning, Singapore time).
"This isn't about winning one play-off game, it's about winning a play-off series," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said of ending the team's play-off drought.
"This gives us a chance."
CHARLOTTE V MIAMI
Game 4, StarHub Ch216, tomorrow, 7am