The Golden State Warriors opened a four-game lead in the NBA's Western Conference on Monday night, thanks to a former member of the team, Palo Alto High grad Jeremy Lin.
Lin poured in 29 points while helping his Charlotte Hornets rally for one of the most improbable victories in franchise history as they rebounded from a 23-point deficit to overtake the visiting San Antonio Spurs, 91-88.
The unlikely win was thanks largely in part to the efforts of Lin, as he scored his game-high 29 points off the bench to lead the Hornets to their second-largest comeback victory ever. Tony Parker scored a team-high 19 points for the Spurs, who lost for just the 11th time this season and were coming off a big win over the Warriors.
After falling behind, 28-7, at the end of the opening frame, Charlotte chipped away at San Antonio's lead, eventually cutting it down to just 72-67 by the start of the fourth quarter. The Hornets finally moved ahead after a Lin 3--pointer with 9:09 remaining gave them a 75-74 lead.
Both teams would go neck-and-neck the rest of the way until a Kawhi Leonard tip-in put the Spurs ahead, 88-87. However, Lin responded with a jumper to put the Hornets back out in front with 48.4 seconds left.
After two misses by Leonard on the next San Antonio possession, Lin snagged a rebound and hit the two ensuing free throws after a Spurs foul to put the Hornets up, 91-88, with 18.3 seconds left in the game.
Both Patty Mills and Danny Green each missed potential game-tying 3-pointers for the Spurs in the closing moments although got one final chance after the ball trickled out of bounds off Charlotte with 0.4 seconds left on the clock. San Antonio wouldn't get another shot off though as Courtney Lee stole the inbounds pass, officially ending the Hornets 10-game losing streak to the Spurs.
Lin drained 11 of 18 shots to go along with seven rebounds and two assists. He made all four of his 3-point attempts. It was Lin's highest-scoring effort off the bench this season. He now has six games this season with 20 or more points, which is fourth-most on the team.
Charlotte is the first team to win a NBA game after scoring seven-or-fewer points in the first quarter since the Utah Jazz in 2008.
The Spurs are now 59-11 while the Warriors still have the best record in the NBA at 63-7. Charlotte, meanwhile, is sixth in the Eastern Conference at 40-30 and remains in playoff contention.