Notebook: Heat 108, Hornets 89

Posted Mar 29, 2013 11:25 PM

Bradley Handwerger, for

THE FACTS: It took less than a half for the Miami Heat to get back on track after having their 27-game winning streak snapped.

LeBron James had 28 points in the first half on his way to a game-high 36 to pace the Heat to a 108-89 win over the New Orleans Hornets. James shot 65 percent from the field, including going 7-for-10 from 3-point range, and had six assists and four rebounds to pace Miami (57-15).

And with the win, Miami, for the first time since the 2004-05 season, clinched the No. 1 seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The mismatch was evident from midway through the first quarter until the final whistle. Miami, coming off its loss at Chicago on Wednesday, outclassed New Orleans (25-48) from both the paint and the outside. The Heat shot 60.9 percent from the floor and hit 14 3-pointers on the night.

For 6½ minutes, the Hornets looked like they had a chance, even taking an 11-9 lead. But the Heat took over and in a four-minute period that spanned the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second quarter, James hit four consecutive 3-pointers that pushed Miami's lead from nine points to 15.

The Heat never led by less than 12 points again. Their next task will be to take on Western Conference-leading San Antonio in Texas on Sunday in what could be a preview of this season's Finals.

Ryan Anderson led New Orleans with 20 points while Al-Farouq Aminu grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds. Anthony Davis added 11 points and five rebounds for the Hornets.

QUOTABLE: "(Michael) Jordan played against men. LeBron plays against young boys. That's the difference."
-- Hornets coach Monty Williams' response when asked if he saw a little bit of Jordan in James' performance.

THE STAT: 19 -- That's the number of turnovers for the Hornets. New Orleans, the second-worst team record-wise in the Western Conference, couldn't afford to give away possessions to the league's hottest team. But by the fourth quarter, New Orleans already had four more turnovers than its season average of 14 and it wasn't done giving the ball away for the game.

TURNING POINT: For the first six minutes of the game, it appeared the Hornets would be able to push the Heat. And then Miami did what the league's best team does -- it went on a 13-2 run that broke open the contest. Miami trailed 11-9 before Chris Bosh hit a long jumper to tie the game. This stretch ended with two Udonis Haslem free throws. In between, the Hornets missed three shots and turned the ball over once.

QUOTABLE II: "I'm going to continue to be who I am on the floor and be who I am off the floor. At the end of the day, I'm here to win games and put our team in a position to win another championship."
-- The Heat's James responding to a question about his role on the team.

HOT: In the first half, the Heat were 23-for-33. And while you may be thinking that's because James shot 71.4 percent, his teammates weren't exactly missing shots. Eight players who don't have James as their surname went 13-for-19 in the opening 24 minutes

NOT: New Orleans' Eric Gordon had a tough night, going just 3-for-11 from the field against the Heat and finished with 17 points thanks to going 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. But he was below his average field-goal percentage in the past four games when he shot 42.3 percent.

NOTABLE: The Heat outscored the Hornets 17-4 in fast-break points. ... Anderson led the Hornets in scoring despite coming off the bench for the 15th time this season. It was the 24th time he has led the team in scoring. ... Norris Cole helped off the bench for Miami, scoring 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting. ... New Orleans' Davis tied a career-high with four steals. Davis also had two blocked shots, giving him 101 for the season.

UP NEXT: For the Hornets, Sunday vs. Cleveland, Wednesday @ Golden State, Friday @ Utah. For the Heat, Sunday @ San Antonio, Tuesday vs. New York, Friday @ Charlotte.