Heat must win three without Hardaway
Updated: Thursday April 26, 2001 4:17 AM
Hardaway sat out practice Wednesday, but wearing a protective boot, he limped onto the court after treatment and made a brief statement to end all speculation about his injury.
"I'm just going to let it rest and heal," said Hardaway, who also was slowed during the playoffs the last two seasons. "I'm not doing nothing to help my team out, and that's it."
Hardaway, who averaged 14.9 points and 6.3 assists this season, has been ineffective in the two blowout home losses to Charlotte. Limited to 36 minutes in the two games, he had five points and nine assists and struggled on defense.
The result: Charlotte guards David Wesley and Baron Davis have combined for 75 points on 25-of-44 shooting -- including 10-of-15 from 3-point range -- and 16 assists as the Hornets moved within a win of clinching the best-of-five series.
The Heat must win two games in Charlotte -- without Hardaway -- to get the series back to Miami. The next game is Friday night.
"I don't think right now it has as great an impact as the other things that are weighing on the psyche, which is the two losses, the hole that we've dug for ourselves and the realization that unless we really get it together, our season could be over with," Heat coach Pat Riley said.
"We have to move on, and we have to try to find a formula that's going to help us win a game on Friday night."
Hardaway re-injured the foot April 13, and tests revealed a bruised bone. He sat out the final three regular-season games. Before that, he had missed only one game this season because of injury.
He said he first hurt his foot some time ago, probably when another player stepped on it.
Riley said Hardaway's foot is not broken, but team doctors told him the best thing for Hardaway is rest.
The 34-year-old Hardaway's injury is the latest blow for a team accustomed to being short-handed.
Center Alonzo Mourning missed the first 69 games with a kidney disease. When guard Eddie Jones returned two weeks ago after missing 15 games with a dislocated shoulder, Miami was finally at full strength -- for three games.
"This is nothing new to us at all," Mourning said. "When guys have gone down, guys have stepped in and they've produced. This is no different. We have to win without them."
Anthony Carter will replace Hardaway in the starting lineup, Riley said. The Heat have been outscored by 40 points with the second-year point guard on the floor. With Hardaway in the game, the Heat have been outscored by 11 points.
The Hornets heard the news while eating lunch Wednesday. Davis immediately raised his arms and yelled, "I put him out!"
"They're still going to play tough, we still have to come with
it, and I still like our chances," Hornets coach Paul Silas said.