Heat Fall to Hornets

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

The Hornets stung the Heat with their defense, beating them 77-71as the young Miami team was unable to play its uptempo game on the road in the Big Easy. After scoring 18 fast break points in each of their first two games, the Heat were held to just seven fast break points in their first road game. New Orleans actually got more fast break points (eight) for the first time all series.

But the real story was defense as Baron Davis, P.J. Brown and David Wesley were able to hold Dwyane Wade, Lamar Odom, and Eddie Jones to 1-8, 5-18, and 2-13 shooting, respectively. With the Heat's top three scorers held to a combined 8-39 shooting (20.5 percent), it was up to Caron Butler to step up, and step up he did. With 24 points on 8-18 shooting, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, Butler was Miami's sole shining spot for the Heat. He played the most minutes of any Heat player, with 45. For the series, Butler is now the Heat's leader in points, rebounds, and steals.

Butler's game just keeps improving. If and when the Heat advance past the Hornets, he will have an excellent opportunity to elevate his game even more against the Pacers.

Stan Van Gundy had a bit of an I-told-you-so speech to the players after the game, as he had warned his players that playing on the road was a lot different than playing at home. Well, the Heat are quick to learn lessons, so we will see what they come out with tomorrow.

The series is now 2-1 in Miami's favor. A win tomorrow in New Orleans will mean the Heat could close out the series at home on Friday; a loss would mean the earliest the Heat could close it out would be Sunday, back in New Orleans.

The key to the Heat will be for Wade to revert to his slashing, aggressive ways and for the Heat to continue to run and look for early offensive opportunities. Three Hornets played outstanding man-to-man defense on the Heat's three leading scorers. What are the chances that happens again?

The Heat's playoff run continues tomorrow, Tuesday, April 27th at 8:00 p.m. EDT/7:00 p.m. CDT on TNT. The remainder of the playoff schedule is as follows:
1 - New Orleans (79) @ Miami (81)
2 - New Orleans (63) @ Miami (93)
3 - Miami (71) @ New Orleans (77)
4 - Miami @ New Orleans, Tuesday April 27 - 8:00 p.m. EDT/7:00 p.m. CDT on TNT
5 - New Orleans @ Miami, Friday April 30 - 7:00 p.m. EDT/6:00 p.m. CDT on ESPN
6 - Miami @ New Orleans, Sunday May 2 - TBA (if needed)
7 - New Orleans @ Miami, Tuesday May 4 - TBA (if needed)

Steve Gorten ofThe Florida Sun-Sentinel notes: The Heat has held the Hornets to 219 points combined in the first three games (73.0 ppg.) and an opponent under 80 three consecutive games for the first time in the Heat's playoff history. ... Butler and Odom attempted 10 free throws each in Game 3, the first time that has been done by two Miami players in the playoffs since 1997. ... Miami would tie another playoff record established that year if it holds New Orleans under 40 percent shooting for the third consecutive game Tuesday. ... Despite a size disadvantage, the Heat has outrebounded the Hornets in all three games, the opposite of the teams' last playoff meeting in 2001.

Send an emailto Dwyane Wade. He will answer at least one question per postseason round.

With an NBA-best 17-4 record over the final 21 games, the Heat finished 42-40 and landed their first playoff appearance since 2001.

Lamar Odomgot six stitches after an inadvertent elbow to the left eye from Baron Davis, but he was good enough to practice yesterday. Odom says he feels little pain from the injury.


Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: It was the one play that set the tone for Dwyane Wade's entire miserable afternoon.Saturday in Game 3 against the Hornets, Wade was isolated with David Wesley at the top of the three-point circle as the final seconds ran off the first-quarter clock. Wade dribbled, dribbled some more and pulled up for a 20-footer that clanged off the rim as the clock expired. He never tried to penetrate, never attempted to get anywhere close to the rim. That was not the aggressive rookie the Heat has grown increasingly fond of. As a result of his passive play, Wade's stat line was his ugliest of the season: 1-of-8 shooting, three rebounds, zero assists, one steal, six turnovers, two points. With the Hornets determined to get the ball out of his hands and with Baron Davis consistently in his face, Wade was a nonfactor in the Heat's Game 3 loss. And if the Heat is going to leave New Orleans on Tuesday with a win and a 3-1 series lead, Wade is going to have to make a remarkable recovery.

Stephen F. Holder ofThe Miami Herald writes:If you want the best out of veteran Hornets guard David Wesley, simply tell him he can't do something.There was a time he was told he might not make it in the NBA. A short CBA stint and 11 NBA seasons later, he has scored more than 10,000 career points. Later, there came a time when the undersized 6-1 shooting guard was told he would struggle to defend bigger opponents at his position. Wrong again, as Heat 6-6 guard Eddie Jones has learned during Miami's first-round playoff series against New Orleans.

Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: The Hornets might have kept the Heat to eight fast-break points in Game 3 on Saturday, but Heat coach Stan Van Gundy believes that statistic still doesn't tell the entire story of the Heat's offensive struggles. ''There's no question that New Orleans made a very concerted effort and did a great job of getting back and taking away our fast breaks and making us set up and play the game,'' Van Gundy said. ``But we want to play the game at a little quicker pace. Even if we don't have attacks in transition for layups, we'd like to move the ball a little bit better and try to attack before their defense is set.'' So if the Hornets are once again successful at keeping the Heat from running, Van Gundy wants his players to keep looking for early offensive opportunities. That didn't happen Saturday, and the result was Van Gundy's worst fear: a game of one-on-five.

Stephen F. Holder ofThe Miami Herald writes: Hornets forward P.J. Brown hasn't provided much of a scoring threat in this playoff series, but the former Heat player has played a huge role in what happens on defense.That's where he has been matched up with Heat forward Lamar Odom, whose versatility makes him a tricky assignment for Brown, a player who is usually rooted in the paint. Brown has had to do some things that, for him, are unconventional, such as tracking Odom out to the three-point line, territory Brown doesn't often explore when guarding the typical power forward. But Odom isn't typical, which is why his 5-of-18 shooting and seven turnovers in Saturday's Game 3 was a testament to the job Brown did.

Ira Winderman ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: Those who set their TiVo before the one-day trip to New Orleans got the message even before Van Gundy pulled out his own tape Sunday."Miami played like a young team, and they came out with no intensity," TNT's Charles Barkley said on the cable network's coverage. "They spent the whole game trying to catch up. And once you get behind a team so far, you give them confidence." Sunday, the players said they had learned their playoff lesson. "We have a lot to learn from that game, and I think we did," guard Dwyane Wade said. "Now we know what to expect going on the road. And I think we'll be better prepared to handle it going through the adversity." While Van Gundy was visibly disappointed about his team not heeding his initial message, he warned that attitude alone won't be enough to force a quick resolution to this first-round series. 

Ethan J. Skolnik ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: All that stands in the Heat's way of the second round sat on a table after Sunday's Hornets walkthrough, wearing Tony Montana on his chest, an easy smile on his face and his little friends (Ice and Tape) on his ankle. Baron Davis' Scarface shirt said something profane, but also something about "Respect."This was interesting, considering the All-Star would spend the interview session insisting on less respect than usual. The self-deprecation came one day after the gimpy guard recorded 21 points, five assists, four steals and one total domination of counterpart Dwyane Wade to help close the series deficit to 2-1. He even dunked in the first half, before injuring his knee and elbow, stepping on Lamar Odom's foot and sitting a few minutes of the second. The dunk surprised him, especially when he was waiting all game for his left ankle to give. "Not going to see much explosion out of me."

Steve Gorten ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: The Heat's leader in points, rebounds and steals through three games of this first-round playoff series against the Hornets isn't who you might expect.While Lamar Odom and Dwyane Wade have garnered most of the attention, Caron Butler is tops in all three categories, averaging 18 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.3 steals. With 24 points and a career-high 15 rebounds in Game 3 on Saturday, Butler became the first player in franchise history to record 20 points and 15 rebounds in a playoff game. He had "mixed emotions" about the feat because it came in a 77-71 loss.