MIAMI -- To review what the Miami Heat learned from their
first playoff game in three years:
A 10-point first-half deficit doesn't mean much.
Neither does a 12-point fourth-quarter lead.
The New Orleans Hornets can't run with Miami.
Sounds a lot like the regular season.
The Heat started slowly, blew a late lead and still beat the New
Orleans 81-79 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference playoff series.
Miami won by outscoring the hobbled Hornets 18-0 on fast-break
"For us to win this series, we're going to have to be a running
team," Heat guard Eddie Jones said Monday. "They're too big and
powerful inside for us to sit back and play a half-court game. We
have to run."
New Orleans will try to do a better job of keeping up with Miami
in Game 2 on Wednesday, but it won't be easy. This season the Heat
have outscored the Hornets in transition 69-28, which is one reason
Miami has won four of the five games.
Even when healthy, the Hornets are bigger, older and slower. And
they're not healthy.
All-Star guard Baron Davis and reserve guard Darrell Armstrong
missed practice Monday because of ankle sprains that sidelined them
late in the regular season. Davis said he'll definitely play
Wednesday, but Armstrong is questionable after failing to score in
16 minutes Sunday.
Davis had a subpar game too, and said he aggravated the injury
"It doesn't feel good," he said Monday. "I've just got to play through it. Before the game I was hyped up and very mobile and
dunking again. To come out in the first play of the game and twist
the ankle, and pretty much every quarter do something bad to
re-injure it, it's definitely frustrating."
Davis let Dwyane Wade drive past him for the game-winning basket
with 1.3 seconds left. And Davis struggled to keep up with the Heat
"We kind of played into their hands," Davis said. "If we can
get back and not let them get on those runs where they're getting
out on the fast break, we have a lot of confidence in our
In the half court, New Orleans outscored Miami 79-63. But fast
breaks kept the Heat in the game in the first half, when they fell
behind 38-28, and a breakaway dunk by Wade following a steal ended
a five-minute scoring drought by Miami in the fourth quarter.
Coach Stan Van Gundy was pleased with the way his team dealt
with the seesaw momentum. It was the first playoff game for five of
the Heat's top eight players.
"Hopefully we can learn from it," Van Gundy said dryly, "now
that we have playoff experience."
The Heat have already learned they're better when they run,
which requires coming up with rebounds and turnovers. In Game 1,
Miami matched the Hornets' 51 rebounds and forced 23 turnovers.
"I'm sure they'll make some adjustments," Van Gundy said.
"What works one night in the playoffs isn't necessarily going to
work the next night. It's going to be hard to get transition
baskets throughout the series."
The Heat were a plodding, physical team under Pat Riley, and his
approach produced four consecutive Atlantic Division titles. But
after Miami lost 57 games last season, Riley revamped the roster by
bringing in Lamar Odom, Rafer Alston and rookies Wade and Udonis
Haslem, which made the Heat faster and more athletic.
And Van Gundy has encouraged them to run.
"We can get the ball off the rim and push it up the court,"
forward Caron Butler said. "We're fortunate to have players with
that versatility, so we should use it to our advantage. We're young
and athletic. The crowd loves it when we run, we love it, and it
has worked well for us."