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Picking up the slack

Mashburn offsets Hardaway's absence as Heat win opener

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Posted: Saturday April 22, 2000 10:23 PM

  Alonzo Mourning set a franchise record with nine blocks as the Heat took a 1-0 lead in the series. AP

MIAMI (AP) -- Even Alonzo Mourning took a turn Saturday filling in for Tim Hardaway.

Standing at the top of the key, the 6-foot-10 Mourning put the ball on the floor, drove around Mikki Moore and hit a dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.

An audition to play point guard?

"Nah," Mourning said, laughing. "That's not what I get paid to do."

But thanks to a collective effort led by Mourning and Jamal Mashburn, the Miami Heat didn't miss Hardaway much in their playoff opening, beating the Detroit Pistons 95-85.

Mourning nearly had a triple double, finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds and a Heat playoff-record nine blocks. Mashburn came through with the best playoff game of his seven-year career, scoring 29 points and adding five assists.

Dan Majerle contributed his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds. And rookie Anthony Carter had 10 points, seven assists and four steals as a replacement for Hardaway, who sat out with a sore foot.

"We had some great performances," said coach Pat Riley, who earned his 150th playoff victory. "It's a good way for us to start."

Game 2 in the best-of-five series is Tuesday.

The Pistons had said they wanted to start the postseason in Miami, but they hardly looked at home against the Heat. Grant Hill scored only 13 points, had six turnovers and was clearly affected by a bone bruise in his left foot.

Pistons at Heat
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"It hurt," Hill said. "It affected me. The good thing is we've got some time to rest."

Hill sat out the final three regular-season games. Coach George Irvine said doctors assured him that the All-Star forward isn't risking further injury by playing.

"He's not the Grant Hill we all know," Irvine said, "but he's still a very effective player at 50 or 75 percent."

Jerry Stackhouse led Detroit with 23 points and exchanged words with Heat players after the game.

"We were just giving a little more excitement for Game 2," he said. "We're going to have a little jawing here and there."

Mourning's intimidating presence on defense helped to quiet the Pistons, who committed 18 turnovers and finished 18 points below their regular-season average of 103.5 per game, second-best in the NBA. Detroit shot only 36 percent in the second half.

"The Heat play a style of defense that is very aggressive and very good," Irvine said. "It can put you on the heels for a while."

Mashburn's point total was a career playoff high and far above his career postseason average of 9.6 per game. He helped Miami get off to a fast start with 11 points in the first quarter, finished 10-for-17 and even played some point guard.

Local Look
Detroit lofted the first grenade in the war of words with the Miami Heat when several Pistons said they would enjoy the warmth of Miami more than the cold of Indiana in the first round of the playoffs.

The Heat took offense at the Pistons' comments, especially those made by Detroit guard Jerry Stackhouse. Stackhouse, however, didn't see what all the fuss was about.

"I think it's a joke," Stackhouse told the Detroit News. "It makes for ratings. As far as I'm intimidated or weary of what they're going to do, I could care less. I give a damn about Pat Riley, Miami or any of their players." 

"I don't put much too stock into this one," said Mashburn, considered an underachiever since joining the Heat in 1997. "We've got a long way to go, but hopefully I'll have more of these."

The first postseason game in 19,600-seat AmericanAirlines Arena lacked much playoff atmosphere. Announced attendance was 16,500 and there were hundreds of empty seats in the lower bowl.

Civic unrest Saturday in Miami stemming from the Elian Gonzalez custody case might have contributed to the crowd's subdued mood.

"It's unfortunate," Mashburn said. "But the way I look at it, we've got to be the entertainment and take their minds off it."

Mourning's drive-and-dunk came during a 10-0 Heat run that put them up 62-50. Mashburn sank two long jumpers early in the fourth quarter for a 79-64 lead.

The Heat ran off 12 consecutive points in the opening period to go ahead 23-14. Detroit's last lead was at 36-35.

"They played well," Hill said. "They did a good job with their defense keeping us from getting to the basket. They played smarter. They played harder. No excuses -- they were the better team."

Notes: Heat fan Jorge Gonzalez, 18, won two season tickets for next season by camping out at the arena for 48 hours, then outscoring 92 other fans on a trivia quiz. ... The Heat's flagship radio station, WIOD-AM, pre-empted the game with coverage of community unrest in the Elian Gonzalez custody case. The game was instead broadcast on WINZ-AM. ... The Pistons attempted 31 free throws per game this season, the most in the NBA. ... Miami was 17-13 without Hardaway during the regular season. ... Carter had two blocks, only three less than his regular-season total. ... The Pistons have five consecutive playoff road losses.

Related information
Miami's Hardaway misses Game 1 with foot injury
Pistons-Heat Game Summary
Pistons coach George Irvine says his team will adjust to Miami's defense for game two. (154 K)
Heat coach Pat Riley wants his team to remain focused and keep its momentum going. (107 K)
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