Hornets snap 14-year playoff winless drought, beat Heat 96-80

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jeremy Lin scored 18 points, Kemba Walker had 17 and the Charlotte Hornets beat the Miami Heat 96-80 on Saturday night to snap a 12-game playoff losing streak and earn their first postseason victory in 14 years.

Rookie Frank Kaminsky, who got the starting nod, scored eight of his 15 points during an 18-0 run in the third quarter that broke open a 53-all game.

The Heat lead the series 2-1, with Game 4 set for Monday night.

Marvin Williams, a non-factor in the first two games, had 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Hornets.

Luol Deng scored 19 points on five 3-pointers, and Dwyane Wade added 17 for Miami. Hassan Whiteside had 13 points and 18 rebounds but battled foul trouble.

Miami, which shot 58 percent from the field in the first two games, was limited to 34 percent shooting.

The Hornets outscored the Heat 52-28 in the paint and had four turnovers to Miami’s 15.

Looking to combat the Heat’s height advantage on the perimeter, Hornets coach Steve Clifford moved Williams to small forward – in place of the injured Nicolas Batum – and inserted Kaminsky and Al Jefferson into the starting lineup.

It didn’t help early on.

Miami started off Game 3 similar to the previous two, with Deng hitting four 3-point attempts in the first six minutes for an early 20-15 lead.

But Charlotte withstood the early Heat assault and took the lead near the end of the first quarter behind eight points from Lin, who found his way to the basket repeatedly and drew a second foul on Whiteside.

Charlotte opened a 49-44 halftime lead after Miami cooled off significantly, shooting just 36.6 percent from the field. That was a remarkable turnaround from Game 2, when Miami shot 74.4 percent from the field in the opening half and scored 73 points.

Kaminsky gave the Hornets a spark in the third quarter with 11 points, including two spin moves against Wade and a turnaround jumper over Joe Johnson. Lin followed with a 3-pointer from the right wing to push the lead to 14, raising the fans clad in black “Enter the swarm” T-shirts and white Hornets headbands off their seats.

The Hornets would push the lead to 24 in the fourth quarter with Lin scoring and creating off the fast break.

Charlotte was 31-10 at home in the regular season.

TIP-INS

Heat: After making 5 of 7 3-pointers to start the game, Miami made just 1 of its next 13 attempts.

Hornets: Were 21 of 22 from the foul line led by Walker, who was 8 of 8. … Had Charlotte lost, it would have matched the New York Knicks’ record of 13 straight postseason defeats. … Batum’s status for Game 4 remains up in the air.

BOSH ON THE SIDELINE

For the first time since the All-Star break, Chris Bosh was with the Heat for a road game.

“He brings a steadying influence, a leadership at all levels – even when he’s not on the floor,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That is why I always lean on him. He’s like another coach. He has been through our system and sees the game through a different lens than most players. All of that helps.”

JORDAN ON HAND

Hornets owner Michael Jordan took his regular seat at the end of the team’s bench for the playoff game.

Tacko Fall’s agent confident if Celtics don’t keep him on roster another team will

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Tacko Fall was arguably the most popular player at Las Vegas Summer League (especially since Zion Williamson only played nine minutes). Fans chanted for him to get in games and then chanted “M-V-P” once he was in. Fall averaged 7.2 points a game on 77 percent shooting at Summer League and every play he made became a viral highlight.

But that was Summer League.

Now things are getting real and Fall is trying to make the Celtics’ roster. Fall signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Celtics, which is essentially a training camp invite.

It’s a longshot Fall makes the Celtics’ regular season roster for two reasons. First, Fall needs a lot more development to be NBA ready, both physically and in terms of understanding and reacting to the game and how fast it moves. That was evident in Las Vegas. Second, the Celtics have Enes Kanter starting at center with Daniel Theis and Robert Williams behind him, it’s unlikely they keep a fourth traditional center on the roster. Both of Boston’s two-way contracts are already filled.

If the Celtics cut Fall and he signs with Boston’s G-League affiliate the Maine Red Claws, Fall gets a $50,000 bonus.

However, Fall’s agent Justin Haynes says if Boston cuts Fall he believes another team will sign him, something Haynes told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.

“If the Celtics release him, I don’t think he goes unclaimed,” said Haynes, Fall’s agent. “I think somebody will take a shot on him because he’s done enough to show he can find a place in the NBA. I’m really hopeful that it’s Boston. I hope they find a way, and they do have a vision for him.”

I could see another team giving Fall one of their two-way contracts, but he needs a lot more development and time on the court. He needs time in the G-League. Maybe a team gives him a roster spot and develops him there, but that seems unlikely. Fall has the potential to be an NBA player, but it’s going to take a lot of work for him to get there.

Work that this year likely will take place in the G-League.

Gregg Popovich shows off some handles, and a midrange game (VIDEO)

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This is where you insert your “if one more player drops from USA Basketball” joke…

Team USA has flown to Australia for a series of FIBA World Cup tuneup games — two against Australia, one against Canada — and they are practicing there for a few days prior to those games. At one of those practices, USA (and Spurs) coach Gregg Popovich showed off a little behind-the-back dribble and midrange game, and Donovan Mitchell caught it on his camera and posted it.

Just as a reminder, Pop did play. Never in the NBA, but he was one of the last cuts of the 1972 USA Olympic team.

That said, I think the coaching gig worked out pretty well for him.

Team USA will play Australia on Aug. 22 and 24, then face Canada on Aug. 26. From there the USA flies to China where its first game is Sept. 1 against the Czech Republic.

Atlanta Hawks promote, extend contract of GM Travis Schlenk

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Trae Young. John Collins. Kevin Huerter. De’Andre Hunter. Cam Reddish.

The Atlanta Hawks have quietly built one of the more intriguing young teams in the NBA the past couple of years, trading up and down in the draft to compile a young roster with a lot of potential. They moved on from Mike Budenholzer (he landed on his feet just fine, thanks) and brought in player development specialist in Llyod Pierce as coach. All that has yet to translate to a lot of wins, but it will — the trajectory of the Hawks is going to take off like a rocket.

Travis Schlenk, the Hawks general manager and architect of all of it, earned the contract extension and new title he was given, something announced by the team on Monday. Schlenk is now Atlanta’s President of Basketball Operations and General Manager.

“We are extremely pleased with the direction that Travis and our entire basketball operations team has us heading as a franchise. He has used the draft to build an impressive young core, hired one of the NBA’s top young coaches in Lloyd Pierce and positioned us to have the cap space, draft picks and financial flexibility needed to have long-term success in the NBA,” Hawks Principal Owner Tony Ressler said in a statement announcing the move.

Schlenk had been an assistant GM in Golden State before coming to Atlanta, and also had spent time in the Miami and Orlando organizations. He’s been in the NBA front office game for a couple of decades.

This is a smart decision by the Hawks. When things are going well, when you have good people in place, keep them there and get ownership out of the way. Let the basketball people do their jobs. Atlanta has figured that out.

The Hawks won 24 games during Schlenk’s first year and 29 last season, but expect that number to jump as the young talent on this roster continues to mature and get added to.

NBA’s Steph Curry helps Howard U. start Division I golf team

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WASHINGTON (AP) Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry is helping Howard University launch a Division I golf program.

The Golden State Warriors star guard and the school announced the six-year partnership Monday.

The specifics of his contribution were not disclosed.

Howard officials say they plan to have women’s and men’s golf teams for the 2020-21 academic year.

The school had a Division II golf program in the past, along with intercollegiate and intramural club teams.

The 31-year-old Curry, who has won three NBA championships with the Warriors, says he decided to get involved after meeting a Howard student who had been trying to get the university to have a golf team.

Curry says “it’s tough” to hear about students “who have the talent but don’t have a fair shot at the game.”