NBA: Hornets snaps playoff skid, Pacers pulls level

After two deflating defeats in Miami, the Hornets fed off its home crowd to trim the deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series to 2-1.

Charlotte Hornets' Jeremy Lin (7) drives to the basket against the Miami Heat during the second half.   -  AP

Jeremy Lin scored 18 points to lead a balanced Charlotte attack on Saturday as the Hornets beat the Miami Heat 96-80 for its first NBA playoff victory in 14 years.

After two deflating defeats in Miami, the Hornets fed off its home crowd to trim the deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series to 2-1.

The Hornets led by five points at halftime, and held the Heat scoreless for almost seven minutes in an 18-0 scoring run in the third quarter that built its lead to 71-53.

The cushion grew to as many as 24 points in the fourth quarter as six Charlotte players finished in double figures.

Kemba Walker contributed 17 points and rookie Frank Kaminsky, part of yet another new starting lineup from coach Steve Clifford, added 15.

Marvin Williams notched a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds, and the Hornets set a club post-season record for fewest turnovers with four.

The Heat, who combined to shoot 57.8 percent in winning the first two games of the series in Miami, hit 10 of its first 15 shots but then struggled to find the basket.

It missed nine straight attempts during Charlotte's 18-0 run, connecting on 34.2 percent from the field for the game.

Luo Deng led the Heat with 19 points. Dwayne Wade scored 17 and Hassan Whiteside added 13 points and 18 rebounds for the Heat, who will try to rebound on the road in game four on Monday.

The Michael Jordan-owned Hornets, meanwhile, will be trying to build on the momentum of its first post-season win since it reached the Eastern Conference semi-finals in the 2001-02 season.

It had been swept in two playoff series since.

Indiana levels

In Indianapolis, French centre Ian Mahimahi scored 22 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and handed out five assists to help the Indiana Pacers to a 100-83 series-tying win over Toronto.

George Hill added 22 points for the Pacers, which knotted the Eastern Conference set at two games apiece.

"Everybody has to be a scoring option for us, and today they were," said Paul George, who scored 19 points for the Pacers. "Ian played amazing. You don't expect 22, 10 and five from him. Guys responded to our loss in game three, the ball moved and we made shots."

Lithuanian centre Jonas Valancing led the Raptors with 16 points.

Demaree Carol and Kyle Lowry each scored 12 and Norman Powell added 10 for the Raptors, the second seeds behind Cleveland in the East.

Dear Derounian struggled again, finishing with eight points. Toronto's 19 turnovers were converted by the Pacers into 25 points.

"We didn't match their intensity or their force," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "We didn't respond when Indiana threw the first punch."

Results on Saturday in the first round of the NBA playoffs (series best-of-seven):

Eastern Conference

(At Indianapolis) Indiana 100 Toronto 83 (Series tied 2-2)

(At Charlotte) Charlotte 96 Miami 80 (Miami leads series 2-1)

Western Conference

(At Dallas) Oklahoma City 119 Dallas 108 (Oklahoma City leads series 3-1)

(At Portland) Portland 96 Los Angeles Clippers 88 (Los Angeles leads series 2-1)

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