2001 NBA Finals

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Stinging defeat

Heat wilt under pressure from Hornets, go down 0-1

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Posted: Saturday April 21, 2001 11:25 PM
Updated: Sunday April 22, 2001 9:49 AM

  Alonzo Mourning Alonzo Mourning contributed just 14 points before leaving in the fourth quarter after getting a gash over his eye. AP

MIAMI (AP) -- When Jamal Mashburn came out of the game with four minutes left, the sparse remaining crowd near the Charlotte bench jeered him one last time. Mashburn responded by pointing behind the fans toward the top of the arena.

"Scoreboard," he said. "That's the bottom line."

Mashburn burned his former team with 28 points, and the Hornets stunned the Miami Heat 106-80 Saturday night in the opening game of their best-of-five playoff series.

Traded last August after four seasons in Miami, Mashburn came to Charlotte with a reputation for wilting in the clutch, especially in the postseason. But he rose to this occasion.

"This is the playoffs," Mashburn said. "It has nothing to do with any personal feelings. I'm just trying to advance."

Baron Davis scored 23 points and David Wesley 17 for the Hornets, who repeatedly beat the lethargic Heat in transition and dominated the boards. By the midpoint of the third quarter, the Heat trailed 70-42 -- their largest deficit this season.

Charlotte's 106 points are the most allowed by Miami this season.

Hornets at Heat
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David Wesley and Jamal Mashburn team up to put out the Heat. Start
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Mashburn talked trash with former teammate Tim Hardaway and got in the last word. He sank a 3-pointer and converted a three-point play to help break the game open, made all nine of his free throws and added five assists.

Hardaway, who missed the final three regular-season games with a bruised left foot, started but scored just three points and shot 1-for-6 in 18 minutes. He hinted afterward that he may take himself out of the lineup.

"I've got a decision to make, and I'll make it Sunday," he said. "I wasn't effective for the team at all. I wasn't able to make the moves I want to make. Their guy was blowing past me."

Heat head coach Pat Riley acknowledged that the Hornets had Hardaway struggling.

"They went right at him," Riley said. "It looked as though he was limited to some extent. They were not going to let him play at all."

With the dismal performance, the Heat squandered the home-court advantage they worked 82 games to earn. Game 2 is Monday before the series switches to Charlotte.

"I like our position right now," Hornets head coach Paul Silas said. "This was our goal -- to get one of these two games, and then all of the pressure is on the Heat. You have no room for error in a five-game series."

The Heat were finally at full strength after playing short-handed virtually all season. Alonzo Mourning, Anthony Mason and Eddie Jones started together for the first time, but their disjointed play made Miami look like a team at the start of training camp.

"That was absolutely getting drilled," Riley said. "Our problem was an offensive problem. We just didn't react to their pressure."

Miami totaled 23 turnovers, which led to 32 Charlotte points. In the early going the crowd booed Mashburn every time he touched the ball, but by the third period, the jeers were directed at the Heat.

Mourning, playing his 14th game in a comeback from kidney disease, had 14 points and just three rebounds in 27 minutes. He left the game midway through the fourth quarter with a cut near his right eye that required five stitches.

Mason had four points and two rebounds in 34 minutes.

The Hornets won the opening game of a playoff series for only the second time in franchise history. They averaged only 77.5 points in four regular-season games against Miami but raced to a 43-28 lead midway through the second quarter.

The margin was 50-40 at halftime, and Charlotte outscored Miami 20-2 at the start of the third period to make it 70-42. Davis and Wesley each sank a 3-pointer on the first two shots of the quarter, and Miami committed a turnover on five consecutive possessions.

"We want to push the ball," Mashburn said. "We want to make it a rat race. That's the name of our game."

Notes: The sellout crowd of 20,085 was the largest for a Heat home playoff game. ... The only other time the Hornets led a series 1-0 was in the opening round in 1998, when they went on to eliminate Atlanta. ... Miami allowed 100 points in a playoff game for the first time in four years.

Related information
CNNSI.com's Kevin Loughery: Second season
Mourning hopes his comeback is just beginning
Hardaway returns to practice, probable for Game 1
SI's Marty Burns: Heat-Hornets Breakdown
Game Summary: Hornets-Heat
Heat head coach Pat Riley says the Hornets ran his squad into the ground. (139 K)
Hornets head coach Paul Silas says his team needed to establish an early lead. (165 K)
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