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Heat stings Hornets, 123-91

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The Miami Heat cruised to a 123-91 victory over the Charlotte Hornets in Game 1 of their best-of–seven first round playoff series on Sunday at American Airlines Arena. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Miami.

Despite the fact both teams finished the season with a 48-34 record, the Heat overwhelmed Charlotte early on. With Miami leading 13-11 with 7:43 left in the first quarter, the Heat finished the quarter on a 28-11 run to take a 41-22 lead.

The best the Hornets could do in the second quarter was to keep the margin from getting worse. It was 67-50 at halftime.

Miami came out in the second half and scored the first seven points to run the margin to 74-50. With the benches emptied in the fourth quarter, Miami increased the margin to 120-89 on a three-pointer by Dorrell Wright.

The 123 points is a Miami franchise record for the playoffs. Their 41-point first quarter tied a record set in 2012 against Oklahoma City on the night the Heat won the NBA championship.

Luol Deng had a monster game with 31 points. He was 11 for 13 from the field, including four of six from beyond the three-point arc. Hassan Whiteside had 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

“We just knew it was time to play Miami basketball,” said Whiteside. “We’re in the playoffs. It’s all or nothing. Just leave it all out there.”

Miami shot 58 percent from the field, including nine of 18 from three-point range. The Heat committed only six turnovers.

The Hornets were led by Nicolas Batum with 24 points. Kemba Walker added 19.

Charlotte has three days to get over this and think about ways to slow down a Miami offense that found plenty of other scorers not named Dwyane Wade.

Miami has now won 11 of their last 12 games at American Airlines Arena. The lone loss was to the Hornets on March 17.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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