MIAMI, May 4 (Ticker) -- Caron Butler
, Lamar Odom
and the Miami Heat
came up big. Baron Davis
and the New Orleans Hornets came up
Butler and Odom carried the Heat into the Eastern Conference
Semifinals for the first time in four years as they powered to
an 85-77 Game 7 victory over the Hornets.
NBA TV highlights from|
Dwyane Wade and the Heat floored the Hornets in Game 7.
Eliot J. Schechter
The youthful Heat built a big early lead and nursed it while
Davis - an All-Star point guard already hobbled by ankle and
elbow injuries - sat out with a bruised tailbone suffered late
in the second quarter. They withstood a late rally and won a
Game 7 for the first time since 1997.
"Nobody can look at this team and say that there is any fear in
them or any quit in them or any choke in them," Heat coach Stan
Van Gundy said.
Playing in their first postseason, Butler and Odom took turns
carrying the Heat. Butler did it early, scoring 11 of his 23
points in the first quarter.
"It feels great to come out and make an impact," Butler said.
"Anytime you can help a team win a Game 7, it's a good
feeling and something you can build on."
"Caron was tremendous, and now everybody is going to talk about
his playoff series and Game 7," Van Gundy said.
Odom did it with clutch baskets down the stretch, finishing with
"Lamar has lived up to my expectations all year and he did it
again tonight," Van Gundy said. "He, like everyone else on this
team, was giving the effort when it counts."
Miami also got a huge contribution from center Brian Grant
had 14 points and nine rebounds while muzzling Hornets All-Star
center Jamaal Magloire
, holding him to six points.
Davis managed just five points
and four assists in 21 minutes. He took a charge from Odom late
in the second quarter and came up wincing before heading to the
locker room. He did not start the second half and played just
three minutes before packing it in.
"I tried to get back in, but at that point I knew I wouldn't be
effective," Davis said. "It was a matter of putting the people
on the court who could get it done, and I couldn't do that.
"It was very difficult sitting there, knowing you want to be out
there, especially in a game like this."
Butler, Odom and Grant had nine rebounds each, helping the
smaller Heat to a 44-40 advantage on the glass. Miami also
committed just eight turnovers while forcing 21. But the
biggest factor may have been the home court.
Neither team lost at home in the series, with Miami notching its
16th straight home win and New Orleans going 0-6 at American
Airlines Arena this season.
"The Heat put themselves in position to be on their home court,
and they protected it," Hornets forward P.J. Brown
deserve to move on."
The fourth-seeded Heat advance to face top-seeded Indiana, which
has not played since April 25 and hosts Game 1 on Thursday.
"Indiana is a tough team," guard Eddie Jones
said. "It is going
to take everything we have to go in there and win, just like in
"If I was Indiana, I'd be a little nervous," Davis said.
"(Miami's) young, talented and they play like they've got
nothing to lose."
Veteran guard Steve Smith
, who had scored just seven points in
the series, tallied 23 for the Hornets, who still never have won
a best-of-seven series, falling to 0-6.
The Heat never trailed, riding Butler's strong start to a 25-18
lead after one quarter. His jumper extended the margin to 35-20
midway through the second period.
"I had confidence in my shot, and my teammates showed confidence
in me," Butler said. Already floundering, the Hornets looked
lost without Davis. They did not get back into it until rookie
scored five straight points to make it 54-46 with
4:06 left in the third quarter.
"We couldn't get in any kind of rhythm," said Hornets guard
, who made just 1-of-10 shots. "We couldn't make
Two baskets by Odom helped rebuild the lead to 71-55 early in
the final period before New Orleans made a late push behind backup
point guard Shammond Williams
. A 3-pointer by Smith made it
71-63 before Odom had a spectacular tip-in with 4:11 to go.
The Heat closed to 75-70 on a jumper by Brown, but Odom answered
with a swooping drive at the 2:24 mark and Miami led by at
least six points thereafter.