Wednesday , Apr , 28 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Playoff Notebook: Hornets come through at home

(Sports Network) – New Orleans evened its Eastern Conference quarterfinal
best-of-seven series with Miami at 2-2 on Tuesday, as the Hornets defeated the
Heat, 96-85, in front of their home crowd.

Baron Davis scored 23 points and dished out 10 assists to lead the Hornets to
the victory in Game 4. Stacey Augmon finished with 17 points and six rebounds
off the bench for the Hornets.

All-Star center Jamaal Magloire and David Wesley each scored 12 points Tuesday
for New Orleans, while rookie David West contributed 10 points and seven
rebounds.

“It was very important because without the win you have to beat them twice on
their home floor,” said Hornets’ head coach Tim Floyd regarding the importance
of tying the series. “They’ve been very good at home. They won their last 11
regular season games there. So, it was certainly important. We didn’t put it
in a must win situation with our players. They understood that (on their own).
It just gives you a chance. You still have to go get one on the road.
Hopefully, we have a little more confidence now going down there, in terms of
how we have to play against them.”

The crucial Game 5 will be played on Friday at AmericanAirlines Arena,

Lamar Odom led the Heat in Game 4 with 25 points, eight rebounds and six
assists, but it wasn’t enough to give Miami a commanding 3-1 lead in the
series. Eddie Jones finished with 16 points and rookie Dwyane Wade contributed
11 points and 10 assists in the losing effort.

Even though the Hornets have evened the series, 2-2, the fact is that they
have never comeback from a 2-0 deficit to win a playoff series. But New
Orleans did not let that prevent it from winning two tough games at home after
it dropped Games 1 and 2 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“We have just been fighting and persevering,” said Davis after Tuesday’s win.
“We have been in this situation before, down 0-2, we were down 0-2 last year
and Philly just outplayed us down the stretch to win game four and to force
that hand. We just willed it out tonight. Guys stepped up and made shots and
we had big defensive plays, we got some charge calls and some key rebounds. It
was a collective effort tonight and everybody who came played.”

Veteran guard Darrell Armstrong contributed seven points and two assists in 24
minutes of action in Game 4.

“Tonight’s game was real important,” said Armstrong. “We just wanted to come
in and take one game at a time and try to even the series and make it a three
game series. Now we need to go to Miami and try to get a win on Friday.”

The 35-year-old Armstrong has not played well in the series, but his
experience could be a big factor as he has played in 28 playoff games over his
10-year career.

“It’ll be a big key for us to go get a win (Game 5) and come back home on
Sunday,” said Armstrong. “It’s an early game and we need to try then to close
them out. But, we need the next one first.”

The Hornets have won two of their last three Game 5s in the playoffs.

“We have a lot of confidence and we know we can go into Miami and win game
five,” said Davis. “It is just a matter of us playing with consistency and a
lot more poise on the road. We know what it takes to win on the road and game
five is going to be very physical, probably the most physical game of this
series so far and we know we are going to have to fight tooth and nail to pull
out a victory.”

New Orleans knows that they should not count the Heat out just because they
have won the last two contests. Miami has never lost a playoff series after it
won the first two games.

“We have a great deal of respect (for the Heat),” said Floyd. “They are a
resilient group. No lead is safe. They continue to come at you and bring at
the rim every possession. It will be tough down there.”

Game 6 is scheduled for Sunday at New Orleans Arena.

NO MIA