Originally created 04/24/04

Hornets hope blowout loss was aberration



NEW ORLEANS -- If the New Orleans Hornets are right, their 30-point loss in Game 2 soon will be considered an aberration in their first-round playoff series with the Miami Heat.

Instead, the Hornets hope the competitiveness they showed in Game 1 - when they had a chance to win in the final 30 seconds - will be more representative for the remainder of the best-of-seven series.

"People are starting to get our fishing hats ready and we don't want them fishing hats yet," guard Darrell Armstrong said after practice Friday. "I know a lot of people look at it, and we're down, but we're back home.

"New Orleans people know how to jam. They know how to party. So we're going to try to bring that party to the arena."

So far, only Miami fans have had cause to celebrate with the Heat taking a 2-0 lead in the series.

The Hornets looked frustrated and confused in tying the second-lowest point total in the playoffs since the shot clock was introduced in 1954. They lost 93-63 Wednesday night.

From a defensive standpoint, Miami seemed to have the Hornets completely figured out.

"We sniffed out the plays they ran," Heat center Brian Grant said. "We knew them before they ran them, actually."

Coach Tim Floyd said the Hornets' poor performance in Game 2 was easy to explain. Practices were light because of injuries to Armstrong and starting guard Baron Davis, both recovering from sprained ankles.

Jamaal Magloire also has been intermittently resting his right heel. He said he has tendinitis.

But Floyd said the Hornets' two practices leading up to Saturday's Game 3 were upbeat and that even players nursing injuries were involved.

"I know it will help," he said. "You can't just go out and recreate playoff intensity at game time. You have to prepare for that in practice and you have to make practice so difficult it's easy in the game.

"We didn't do that before Game 2, and now I think we've had two good days of practice."

Davis, leading the Hornets in playoff scoring at 15 points a game, remains in pain but is getting better.

"I just got to try to prevent from making a lot of sharp turns or people stepping on it," he said. "As long as I kind do that I can find a way to still be effective."

Several Hornets, including Armstrong and starting shooting guard David Wesley, worked hard on shooting long after Floyd called an end to practice Friday.

The Hornets shot 24.4 percent Wednesday night, struggling to score even when they had open looks at the basket.

"I love the looks that we got," Floyd said of the third quarter, when the Hornets made just two of 19 shots. "We didn't get them down, and there's really no answer for that other than making some of those shots."

Hornets forward P.J. Brown said the Hornets - aware that no NBA team has recovered from a 3-0 series deficit - will treat Saturday as "a one-game season."

"We're going to come out hungry. We have to," he said.

Miami coach Stan Van Gundy gave his players Thursday off before they returned to practice Friday. But his players have shown no sign of overconfidence.

The Heat have won 19 of their last 23 games and 14 straight at home, but were 13-28 on the road this season.

Heat forward Caron Butler, averaging 15 points in the series, said being up 2-0 is "a good feeling, but kind of scary because you know that their team is going to be a little hungrier."