New Orleans cools off Heat to level series at 2-2
=== New Orleans cools off Heat to level series at 2-2 ===
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) – Baron Davis scored 23 points and dished out
10 assists to lead the Hornets to a 96-85 victory over the Heat at New Orleans
Arena, evening their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal against
Miami at two games apiece.
Stacey Augmon came out of nowhere to post 17 points and six rebounds for the
Hornets, and Jamaal Magloire and David Wesley each scored 12 points. Rookie
David West added 10 points and seven rebounds, as the Hornets bounced back to
knot the series after losing Games 1 and 2 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“Things are starting to come together,” Davis said. “Tying it up 2-2 puts a
little more pressure on them to hold serve on their home court. We’re going in
there with the utmost confidence. We just have to play to our experience.”
Lamar Odom carried the Heat with 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists,
but it wasn’t enough to give Miami the commanding lead in the series. Eddie
Jones contributed 16 points and Dwyane Wade chipped in with 11 points and 10
assists in the losing effort.
A Jones reverse layup with 3:11 to play pulled the Heat within four points at
84-80, but it was all New Orleans from there, as Miami went cold from the
Augmon hit a tough, left-handed bank shot from the elbow to push the lead to
six, and after a pair of Odom free throws, West hit a layup and Wesley buried
two free throws to make it a 90-82 contest with less than a minute to go.
A Rafer Alston three-pointer with 47 seconds left accounted for the only
points Miami would score the rest of the way, while the Hornets kept making
foul shots to bring about the wide final margin.
“Some people are going to try to find some excuse why we lost, some myth or
something. There ain’t no myth, there ain’t no reason,” Butler said. “We’ve
just got to step it up. It’s as simple as that.”
The first quarter was hotly contested, and neither team was able to grab more
than a three-point lead until there was 2:38 left in the frame, when George
Lynch drilled an 18-footer to put New Orleans up 19-15.
The Hornets would extend that lead to 22-17 after 12 minutes, as Magloire hit
two free throws with 29 seconds left after being fouled by Caron Butler.
Miami got as close as three points at 35-32 five minutes into the second
quarter on a Wade jumper, but couldn’t draw closer for several minutes. New
Orleans quickly pushed its lead back up to seven points, but the Heat put on
A Jones three-pointer with 2:29 left in the half triggered an 8-2 run, pulling
Miami within one at 45-44 with just over a minute to go. But New Orleans
countered, and Davis hit a tough, 21-footer with Jones all over him to stake
the Hornets to a 50-44 halftime lead.
Davis had 15 points and six assists to lead his squad in both categories,
while Jones posted 11 points for the Heat.
New Orleans raced out to a double-digit lead in the first five minutes of the
second half, grabbing a 60-49 lead on a Lynch three-pointer.
But Miami responded with an 18-6 surge re-taking the lead at 67-66 with 1:45
to play in the third on a pair of Alston free throws.
Four more points extended the Heat’s lead to five, but a pair of Darrell
Armstrong free throws with less than 20 seconds to go cut the Miami edge to
71-68 heading into the final stanza.
New Orleans took the lead back on a West layup that made it 77-75 with a
little more than eight minutes to play. The Hornets continued their push, and
a West dunk off of a tremendous no-look pass from Davis gave New Orleans an
82-75 edge midway through the frame.