<
>

Heat almost rallied from 18 down late

5/3/2004

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The Heat and Hornets will have one more
chance to shove, scream and squabble. The only first-round series
in the NBA playoffs to last beyond six games will go the distance.

On a day when the New Orleans Hornets were the verbal and
physical aggressors, defensive specialists P.J. Brown and George
Lynch gave Baron Davis enough offensive help to force a deciding
Game 7 with an 89-83 victory Sunday.

"It's going to be a war, just like every other game in this
series. It might be a little more intense," said Miami guard
Dwyane Wade, who led his team with 27 points. "It's a great series
-- two great teams going at it. That's what you watch the playoffs
for, to see who's going to duke it out in Game 7."

The series concludes Tuesday night in Miami.

The host team has won each game so far, and the Heat have a
15-game home unbeaten streak. In NBA history, the team with
homecourt advantage has won its Game 7 on 70 of 85 occasions.

The mind games and brute force that have helped define this
series picked up even more in Game 6, compounded by a foot injury
to senior referee Joe Crawford that left only two referees on the
floor for most of the game.

Robert Traylor was called for a technical when he flattened
Eddie Jones on a shot attempt in the fourth quarter, then Traylor
was thrown out of the game as he continued to shout at the Miami
bench.

Davis also exchanged words with the Miami bench twice in the
final quarter and had to be pulled away by teammates the second
time. Lamar Odom, Lynch, Jamaal Magloire and Stacy Augmon also were
called for technicals for their behavior toward opposing players.

"It just left a nasty taste in your mouth. I don't know what
they were trying to do," Miami forward Caron Butler said. "All we
did was come to play basketball. Now we're ready to go back to
Miami and redeem ourselves. And we look forward to the challenge."

New Orleans never trailed and led by double digits for most of
the game, but Miami -- after trailing by as many as 18 in the fourth
quarter -- got as close as 85-81 on Caron Butler's runner with 1:07
left. Brown then made a pair of free throws, and Miami could get no
closer than four the rest of the way.

"The only positive was we didn't quit," Miami coach Stan Van
Gundy said. "That could have been a 25- or 30-point game. We got
dominated for 42 minutes."

Davis' 15 points were his second-lowest total of the series,
down from the 33 he scored in the Hornets' Game 5 loss. But when he
found open teammates, they hit clutch shots, and Davis finished
with a series-high 12 assists.

"I definitely was looking to score a little bit more," said
Brown, who along with Lynch led the Hornets in scoring with 16
points each. "We know they're going to come at Baron, double-team
him any chance they get, because they can't afford to let him have
a 30-point explosion.

"They want other people to make plays for the team, and I
thought we stepped up and did a great job of doing that."

Magloire tied his series high with 14 points and David Wesley
added 10 for New Orleans.

Jones had 23 points and Butler 14 for Miami, but Lamar Odom had
one of his worst games. He entered averaging 18 points but had only
nine when he fouled Davis on a fast-break drive with 2:20 left.
Odom fouled out on the play, and Davis hit the free throws to put
New Orleans ahead 85-75. That lead proved too much to overcome.

"I had a bad game ... It happens like that some times," Odom
said.

Hornets coach Tim Floyd credited Brown's defense on Odom, and
the help he got from teammates who jammed the inside.

New Orleans led 32-15 after the Heat missed 14 consecutive
shots, but Miami opened the second half with a 10-2 run to pull to
47-43. Davis responded with a 3-pointer to spark a 16-2 run that
included a tip-in, a 3 and a turnaround fadeaway by Lynch.

With about 2:30 left in the period, Davis collided with Jones
and got up limping. He went to the locker room briefly as Miami
pulled to 69-58 on Wade's 3 to start the fourth quarter.

Davis returned early in the fourth and immediately got a four
assists. He set up Wesley for three open jumpers, including a 3,
then found Augmon for a fast-break dunk that sent the sellout crowd
of 17,297 into a frenzy and put the Hornets up 80-62 with eight
minutes left.

Game notes
Crawford sprawled onto the sideline press table after his
first-quarter injury, writhing from pain in his right foot. He had
to be helped off the floor, and an early examination indicated a
torn plantar fascia. ... Miami's bench did not score until Udonis
Haslem made a free throw with 1:51 left in the third quarter. The
bench finished with four points. ... It was the first home sellout
in three games for the Hornets.