'They embarrassed us'
Heat's Hardaway goes from dispirited to defiant
MIAMI (AP) -- Soaked in sweat, Tim Hardaway walked off the practice court Sunday with his characteristic swagger, showing no sign of the bruised left foot that threatens to doom the Miami Heat's season.
Following Miami's 106-80 loss to Charlotte in their playoff series opener Saturday, Hardaway hinted he might sit out Game 2 Monday because of the injury. But after sleeping on the most lopsided home playoff loss in Heat history, the cocky point guard's mood changed from dispirited to defiant.
"I'm playing Monday," he said. "They embarrassed us on TV in front of our home crowd. We have more pride than that."
Pride may not be enough against the hungry Hornets, who are fueled by Jamal Mashburn's desire to show up his former team. Mashburn scored 28 points Saturday, talked trash with Hardaway and gleefully traded barbs with heckling fans when he came out of the game.
Afterward Mashburn took a not-so-subtle shot at the Heat, who traded him to Charlotte in a nine-player deal last August.
"We have guys in our locker room who are very unselfish," he said. "That was something I hadn't been part of my whole seven years in the NBA."
Mashburn aside, Miami's biggest headache is the Hornets' two skittering guards, Baron Davis and David Wesley. They're simply too quick for the 34-year-old Hardaway, especially when he's hampered by a bruised foot that forced him to miss the final three regular-season games.
In the playoff opener, Davis scored 23 points and Wesley 17, while Hardaway had three points and four turnovers in 17 minutes. On defense Hardaway was repeatedly beaten in the half court and in transition as the Hornets scored 27 fast-break points. With the ball he was susceptible to traps that disrupted the offense, and Miami finished with 23 turnovers.
"The focus was really to take Tim out of the ballgame," Davis said. "We wanted to speed things up and make him play at our pace."
Heat coach Pat Riley's alternatives at point guard were Anthony Carter and rookie Eddie House. Carter's poor outside shot allowed the Hornets to double-team under the basket, and he managed just four points with five turnovers in 26 minutes. House provided an offensive spark in the second half, but Riley considers his defense unreliable.
"When Tim's not on the floor, their offense tends to take a step back," Davis said.
The point guard mismatch could negate the Heat's apparent advantage underneath. When Riley deployed a 750-pound front line of Alonzo Mourning, Brian Grant and Anthony Mason, Miami struggled to get the ball inside and the result was a flurry of turnovers.
The Hornets are buoyed by the knowledge that in a best-of-five series, the team winning Game 1 goes on to take the series 84 percent of the time. But Mourning said there's no reason to be alarmed by one playoff loss.
"Who said we were going to go undefeated?" he said. "We lost one game, OK? They'll have us where they want us if and only if they win three games, and they haven't done that yet.
"I've been here before, man. You act like this is new to us. We've lost games in the playoffs before, embarrassing losses. I can recall a bunch of them. And we've regrouped and come back."
But it's been four years since Miami won a playoff series with Hardaway in the lineup. And his familiar swagger doesn't mean much if he can't run.
"You can really tell his foot's hurting," Davis said. "It's tough for a point guard to play against somebody who is applying pressure when you're wounded."