MIAMI (AP)—Watching on TV in his office at the arena, Miami Heat president Pat Riley had to be smiling.
With the sort of smothering defense he loved to coach, the Heat routed the New Orleans Hornets 93-63 Wednesday for a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.
New Orleans shot 24.4 percent to tie for the second-lowest playoff point total since the shot clock was introduced in 1954.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen us play defense like that for 48 minutes,” Heat guard Eddie Jones said. “That was an intense effort.”
The Hornets finished 20-for-82. They sank seven meaningless baskets in the fourth quarter to avoid breaking the record for playoff shooting futility— 23.3 percent, set by Golden State in 1973.
Utah holds the playoff record for fewest points with 54 in 1998.
“The ball was just clanging off the rim all night long,” New Orleans forward P.J. Brown said. “It was just one of those nights.”
The best-of-seven series moves to New Orleans for the next two games, with Game 3 on Saturday.
“We’ll go home. We’ll hit some shots. We’ll be all right,” Hornets guard Baron Davis said.
Jones scored 19 points for the Heat, who shot 45 percent. Caron Butler added 18 points and nine rebounds.
But it was the hapless Hornets’ offense—and the Heat’s defense—that everyone talked about afterward. In his second playoff game as a coach, Stan Van Gundy watched the Heat throttle an opponent the way Riley’s best Miami teams did.
“They obviously came out focused and played really, really hard,” Van Gundy said.
New Orleans’ offensive meltdown was a collective effort. All-Star guard Davis went 3-for-14, and All-Star center Jamaal Magloire repeatedly missed inside. Reserve Stacey Augmon had the ugliest attempt, clanking a short jumper off the side of the rim.
“We got frustrated with not being able to establish anything inside,” coach Tim Floyd said. “We became dependent on the jump shot.”
The game started ominously for the Hornets, with Wade stripping Davis on the first possession and scoring on the ensuing breakaway. New Orleans fell behind in the opening period by shooting 7-for-22—then got worse.
“Inside, outside, we just didn’t make shots,” Hornets guard Darrell Armstrong said.
Desperate for a spark, Floyd started perimeter specialist Steve Smith in the second half. He finished 2-for-9.
Twice the Hornets misfired on 10 consecutive tries. In the third quarter they shot 10.5 percent (2-for-19). Shammond Williams missed their final attempt with 25 seconds left—a layup.
Miami’s defense was good, but not that good. New Orleans had some open looks, especially Brown (2-for-12) and Magloire (4-for-11). The Heat outscored the Hornets 18-10 in fast-break points for a series advantage of 36-10.
Davis, slowed by an ankle sprain, moved better than in Game 1 and was the Hornets’ lone double-figure scorer with 13 points. But he’s shooting 24 percent (7-for-29) in the series.
New Orleans is averaging 71 points, 21 below its season average. The Hornets’ high-scoring quarter so far has been 22 points.
The recent records of the two teams suggest a turnaround in the series is unlikely for the Hornets. They’ve lost 19 of their past 30 games, while the Heat have won 19 of 23—and 14 in a row at home.
“They’re playing the best basketball in the NBA, it looks like to me,” Armstrong said. “They must have some pep pills or something, because they havea lot of energy over there.”
Golden State’s record for shooting futility came on April 21, 1973, when the Warriors went 27-for-116. … Armstrong, battling a sprained right ankle, went 1-for-8. He failed to score in the first game of the series. … Heat guard Rafer Alston went 0-for-4 from 3-point range. He sank a 3-pointer in his final 48 regular-season games, a team record and the longest active streak in the league. … Van Gundy said Memphis’ Hubie Brown was a deserving choice Wednesday for NBA Coach of the Year. Van Gundy finished third. “When I saw I did get one first-place vote, I was wondering how my mom got credentialed for voting on the thing,” Van Gundy said. … Scottie Pippen watched from afront-row seat near the Hornets’ bench.