As has been the norm so far this season, Miami got off to a very slow start. New Orleans took advantage by going on a 12-2 run in the opening minutes. The Heat struggled on both ends, settling for jumpers and shooting around 30% throughout the quarter while allowing Chris Paul to do pretty much whatever he wanted offensively, racking up the assists.
New Orleans center Emeka Okafor started out 5-for-5 from the field and Paul handed out 9 assists, and the Hornets finished the first quarter up by 12 on the Heat. It was no coincidence that when Miami began chipping away at the Hornets lead it was with Chris Paul on the bench.
When Paul did return though, Miami was able to keep their momentum. Dwyane Wade was a consistent source of scoring for the Heat, from the field and free throw line. Miami got the deficit down to 4 with under three minutes left in the half, but a quick little 5-0 run by New Orleans pumped it back up to 9.
That would be the lead they took into the half. After the 12-2 start for the Hornets, Miami was able to keep pace and hopefully find their rhythm in the 2nd half. It would help to get Chris Bosh going, who had just two points in the half (the Heat's first 2 points).
Bosh must have been thinking the same thing because he opened the 2nd half scoring for Miami with a pair of early buckets. Unfortunately Emeka Okafor continued to torment the Heat with offensive rebound putbacks, something that needed to be addressed immediately.
After Miami got within 5 points, the Hornets went on a 10-2 run to go up by 13. To the Heat's credit, they did knock the lead down to 8 by the end of the quarter. D-Wade and U-D helped to get it down to 3 half-way through the quarter. Wade caught fire late, hitting a corner three then getting fouled taking a three, making every free throw to get it down the lead down to 1.
Miami actually held the lead briefly after a LeBron James free throw, but it would only last a matter of seconds and they would never get it back. Trevor Ariza hit a triple that put the Hornets up by 4 with just 14 seconds left, which was essentially the dagger. The Heat had a shot to tie it at the buzzer, but it was not meant to be.
Emeka Okafor was the difference in this game. He was a scoring machine, taking advantage of a poor defensive effort on the inside from the Heat. He hit 12-of-13 from the field, finishing with 26 points. Emeka also dominated the boards, coming down with 13 rebounds.
- Chris Bosh came alive in the 2nd half, scoring 13 of his 15 points. He drilled a triple with 7 seconds left to get Miami within 1, his biggest shot since joining the Heat.
- Dwyane Wade finished with 28 points and hit all 13 of his free throws.
- How sweet is Big Z's jumper? I'm starting to get the feeling that it's going in the majority of the time. Most of his misses have come from inside the paint.
- By far the Heat's worse showing from downtown. 5-of-21, 23.8%.
- Other then Zydrunas, the Heat bench shot just 30%.
The Heat get right back at it tonight from the AAA against New Jersey. Tipoff is set for 7:30.