Two days after handling the leagues best team in the Golden State Warriors, The San Antonio Spurs suffered their 11th loss of the season on Monday night to the surging Charlotte Hornets behind Jeremy Lin’s 29 points and 7 rebounds off the bench.
The 91-88 win moves the Hornets to 40-30 and a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with the Boston Celtics (who are currently playing).
It looked like it was going to be an easy win for the San Antonio Spurs, who were playing away from home, as they went up by 21 in a first quarter that saw the Hornets score a mere 7 points–the lowest first quarter total by any NBA team this season.
But the Hornets were able to chip away at the Spurs lead behind 8-for-19 shooting from three (42 percent) and an impressive performance by Jeremy Lin that was reminiscent of his early days with New York and the Linsanity era.
Lin scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and went 11-18 from the floor including 3-for-4 from three.
Courtney Lee added 17 points, Nicolas Batum contributed 15, and Cody Zeller pulled in 14 boards for a Charlotte team that lost a disappointing matchup against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
Despite coming off a huge win this past Saturday, the Spurs failed to respect their opponent and fell asleep after they built a comfortable first quarter lead. Tony Parker led the way for the Spurs with 19 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds in a game that saw their two big men, Duncan and Aldridge, go for double-doubles.
San Antonio had two chances to send the game into overtime, but guards Patty Mills and Danny Green failed to hit their 3-point attempts and saw their shot at extending the game disappear when the Hornets’ Courtney Lee stole an inbounds pass as time expired.
Ultimately, the Spurs failed to recognize the urgency set forth by the Hornets–specifically Lin– during the course of the game; would they have locked in on Lin as they did to Curry this past Saturday night, they’d be celebrating their 60th win of the season.
The Hornets, however, were playing with that urgency and pride to move up the playoff ladder in the Eastern Conference and have been playing some of the best basketball in the league since February.
The Hornets sport the league’s third-best record over the past 20 games, going 16-4 in that stretch to rank behind only their opponent Monday night, the Spurs (17-3), and the league-leading Warriors (17-3).
Prior to Monday’s game, the Spurs were 22-0 when leading by 20 or more points after one period. The loss is an uncanny one for a team that is known for their discipline and ability to put away teams once they have a demanding lead.
The Hornets, on the other hand, had never won when trailing by at least 20 after 1 quarter.
In Monday’s game future hall-of-fame forward Tim Duncan was able to pass current hall-of-fame point guard Gary Payton for 10th on the NBA’s all-time minutes played list.
The Hornets go on to face the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn tomorrow night, while the Spurs will host another Eastern Conference playoff contender in the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
[AP Photo/Chuck Burton]