Hornets sweep Heat

Posted: Sunday, April 29, 2001

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jamal Mashburn and the Charlotte Hornets had the last laugh. Pat Riley and the Miami Heat are headed for another long offseason.

Mashburn, acquired from Miami in a nine-player offseason deal, got the best of his former team by scoring 21 points to lead the headband-wearing Hornets to a 94-79 victory Friday night, completing a stunning three-game sweep.

''Sure, it's gratifying,'' said Mashburn, who set personal playoff bests with nine rebounds and eight assists.

''I'm not going to sit here and lie and say I didn't want to do this the whole series. I did want to sweep them and prove a point and I think I proved it.''

Baron Davis also scored 21 in front of a raucous crowd of 22,283, and Miami was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the fourth time in Riley's six years as the Heat's coach.

Charlotte won the three games by a total of 67 points, and held Miami to a record-low 235 for the series. The old record for fewest points in a three-game playoff series was 239.

''It was no contest, we were outcoached, outran, outjumped, everything,'' Riley said.

''I'm like a basketball coach-aholic that bottoms out. I need to find a 12-step program, that's how I look at it. I'm going to have to do some real deep, deep searching here on how this game has got to be played for the Miami Heat to go forward.''

Mashburn averaged 23.6 points in the series -- and was a record 25-for-25 on free throws -- to carry the Hornets into the second round of the playoffs for the third time in franchise history. They've never been to the Eastern Conference finals.

Mashburn shattered the mark for most free throws made without a miss in a three-game playoff series. Kiki Vandeweghe went 18-for-18 from the line for Denver against Phoenix in 1982.

Mashburn took much of the blame for Miami's past playoff failures. After the trade, which sent Anthony Mason and Eddie Jones to Miami, some of Mashburn's ex-teammates said the Heat would be better without him.

''His defense, his intensity, everything was just on a whole other level these three games,'' Davis said. ''He really wanted to beat them and we fed of his passion and desire.''

The Hornets, who wore headbands throughout the series to show team unity, took a double-digit lead early in the second quarter Friday and built it to 27 at halftime.

''There's power in the headbands, no doubt,'' Davis said. ''When you see a 13-year veteran agree to wear a headband, that means something. It shows this team is together, playing as one and we were for 12 quarters of basketball.''

The city of Charlotte had been blase about the Hornets all season and barely blinked when the franchise filed for relocation to Memphis last month.

But Friday's game drew the first true sellout of the season.

A year ago, just over 11,000 turned out for Charlotte's first-round playoff series against Philadelphia.

Fans were on their feet from the start Friday and were chanting ''Sweep! Sweep!'' when P.J. Brown hit two free throws to give the Hornets a 27-point lead right before halftime.

''That was just overwhelming,'' Hornets coach Paul Silas said. ''Hopefully a love affair is going to develop with this team the way it did in the early years.''

Former Hornets player Eddie Jones, booed every time he touched the ball, led Miami with 22 points.

Tim Hardaway, ineffective in the first two games because of a bruised left foot, didn't play for Miami. The Heat used a combination of Anthony Carter and rookie Eddie House in his place.

Davis scored 14 in the first half -- six on flying dunks -- and David Wesley had 12 as the Hornets took a 58-31 lead at the break.

Miami struggled to get the ball inside to its powerful frontline of Alonzo Mourning, Anthony Mason -- two former Hornets -- and Brian Grant until the result was decided.

The trio was held to a combined 31 points in the game.

Mourning, playing in his 16th game after missing most of the season with kidney disease, had 12 points and nine rebounds.

''I don't have any idea at all why this turned out the way it turned out,'' Mourning said. ''With a healthy Miami Heat team, it would have been a totally different story.''

Notes: Miami held Detroit to 239 points in their three-game series last season, and New York limited Cleveland to that total in the 1996 playoffs. ... Fans sitting near Riley waved a sign that said ''Nice Trade, Pat'' and another that listed the stats of the principles in the trade. ... Charlotte's only other two sellouts this season had 4,000 fewer fans because the Hornets had tarps over the ''least desirable'' seats until the playoffs.

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