NEW ORLEANS, April 27 (Ticker) -- Baron Davis
may be hurting, but his
team is healthy again.
Davis had 23 points and 10 assists and sparked a fourth-quarter
surge as the New Orleans Hornets drew even in their first-round
series with a 96-85 victory over the Miami Heat.
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The home team has won the first four games of the Eastern
Conference series. Game 5 is Friday at Miami.
"It was very important because without the win you have to beat
them twice on their home floor," Hornets coach Tim Floyd
"They've been very good at home. They won their last 11 regular
season games there."
An All-Star point guard, Davis made just 15-of-49 shots through
the first three games while nursing ankle, elbow, and back
injuries. He seems to wince in pain whenever he is involved in
contact with another player or the floor.
Baron Davis and the Hornets will be looking to take a series lead in Game 5 Friday.|
Layne MurdochNBAE/Getty Images
"I'm ready to go lie down and sleep for awhile," said Davis, who
was visibly limping minutes after the game. "It's just a
matter of the adrenaline gets going when you're out there.
Toward the end of the game, when I knew we were going to win,
that was when all the aches and pains came back."
Despite a strong start by Davis, the fifth-seeded Hornets
trailed, 71-68, entering the fourth quarter. That's when Davis
took charge, making shots, setting up teammates for easy baskets
and spearheading a defense that allowed just 14 points.
"We fed off the crowd a lot, especially when they made their run
and went up three," Davis said. "We got back in the ballgame
and the crowd was behind us. We just kept plugging away. You
have to give them a lot of credit because they play very, very
hard and they give themselves a chance at the end of every
ballgame by sticking to their offensive and defensive
Davis opened the final period with a 3-pointer, triggering a
14-4 run that gave the Hornets the lead for good. After a
three-point play by Lamar Odom
cut the deficit to 82-78, Davis
backed down Dwyane Wade
and made a lane jumper with 3:42 left.
"They just kept us at bay," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy
"They hit huge shots at the end of the shot clock. A lot of
times that's what it comes down to against good defense. They
hit several huge shots and we were not able to. We were not
able to make the big shots that they made."
The Hornets got a big boost from rookie David West
, who scored
eight of his 10 points in the final period. He had a layup off
a beautiful pass from a driving Davis with 53 seconds to go,
giving New Orleans an 88-82 lead.
"They weren't worried about me," West said. "He (Davis) had the
ball in his hands and everybody was coming up the lane.
There's a soft spot on the baseline. That's my spot. I try to
exploit that spot whenever he has the ball in his hands."
The fourth-seeded Heat struggled in the fourth quarter, going
5-for-20 from the floor, while the Hornets connected on 9-of-20
"That's a great defensive team over there. They play well when
it counts," Miami forward Odom said. "I'm not goint to
take anything away from them, and I'm not going to give then
extra credit. We're in the playoffs. But they played good
defense in the fourth quarter. They made more plays than us."
Odom scored 25 points and collected eight rebounds. Eddie Jones
added 16 points for the visitors, who made just 5-of-22
came off the bench to score 17 points and David Wesley
and Jamaal Magloire
added 12 apiece for the Hornets, who
never have won a best-of-seven series.
"We have a lot of confidence and we know we can go into Miami
and win Game 5," said Davis. "We know what it takes to win
on the road, and Game 5 is going to be very physical,
probably the most physical game of this series so far."
Davis had 15 points and six assists in the first half as New
Orleans grabbed a 50-44 advantage. The Hornets opened their
largest lead at 60-49 on a 3-pointer by George Lynch
left in the third quarter.
The Heat stormed back behind Odom, who scored 10 points in a
22-6 run. His short hook shot made it 71-66 before the Hornets
got two free throws from Darrell Armstong
to close the period.