Wednesday, April 08, 2009
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Butler, West shoot down Heat 93-87

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[April 08, 2009]  MIAMI (AP) -- New Orleans is going back to the playoffs, thanks in large part to dramatics from Rasual Butler and David West.

Butler hit a game-tying 3-pointer with no time remaining in regulation, West hit the go-winning jumper with 8.8 seconds left in overtime, and the Hornets stunned the Miami Heat 93-87 on Tuesday night.

Chris Paul finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, and Peja Stojakovic added 24 points for the Hornets (48-29), who not only clinched their postseason berth but stayed thickly in the hunt for home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Dwyane Wade scored 32 points before getting ejected with 1.4 seconds remaining and Michael Beasley added 25 for Miami (41-37), which remained a half-game ahead of Philadelphia in the race for the No. 5 spot in the East postseason chase. The Heat fell three games behind Atlanta for the fourth seed in the East.

West scored from the top of the key, and the Heat -- of course -- gave the ball to Wade. But he lost the ball, never getting a shot away, and Stojakovic sealed it with a pair of free throws with 2.3 seconds left.


West finished with 20 points for New Orleans, which still could realistically finish anywhere from third to eighth in the Western Conference.

Miami was down six when Wade had a three-point play with 1:51 left. His 3-point shot tied it at 87 with 33 seconds remaining, but the Heat didn't score again.

The Heat had led for only 12 seconds all night when Wade found James Jones for a 3-pointer with 2:14 remaining in regulation, a shot that put Miami up 71-69. Wade connected with Jones again in nearly the same spot with 1:03 left, and when that 3 swished, the Heat lead was 76-72.

New Orleans wasn't finished. Paul scored with 13 seconds left to cut Miami's lead to two, and when Wade made one of two free throws with 10 seconds left, the Hornets needed a 3-pointer to tie.

Butler wound up with the ball on a broken play, and his shot from the right wing swished as time expired.

For the second straight game, New Orleans struggled to score in the first half.

Unlike Sunday's home debacle against Utah, it didn't matter.

The Hornets -- who were down 66-39 against the Jazz at intermission two nights earlier -- only managed 40 points in the first two quarters against the Heat. Somehow, that was good enough for a 10-point lead, as Miami sputtered through its worst first half of the season.

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Miami held New Orleans to 13 points in the second quarter. Problem was, the Heat scored 11, their worst of any quarter this season, and managed only 30 points at the break. Wade was 3-for-11 and the rest of the Heat weren't much better, going a combined 9-for-24.

The grind-it-out, playoff-type, half-court style carried over into the third quarter.

New Orleans stretched its lead to 47-34 on Hilton Armstrong's dunk with 9:23 left, then proceeded to shoot 3-for-14 over the remainder of the third, giving Miami a window of opportunity.

Wade's 3-pointer with 1:55 remaining got the Heat within 54-48 -- the final points of the third quarter. And Miami eventually tied it at 56 when Beasley grabbed an offensive rebound and found Jamaal Magloire for a score in the lane with 9:09 remaining in the fourth.

Notes: Wade has a steal in 21 straight games, a career-best and the third-longest run in Heat history, behind Sherman Douglas (27) and Caron Butler (22). ... New Orleans' final five games are against Dallas (2), Phoenix, Houston and San Antonio -- giving the Hornets the hardest down-the-stretch run of any playoff-bound team. ... Stojakovic started for the first time since March 2. He missed 15 games with back soreness before playing as a reserve in New Orleans' previous two contests. ... Miami was whistled for the game's first six fouls, and during an early stoppage, a fan yelled at referee Jason Phillips to point out the disparity. "Not our fault," Phillips shouted back.

[Associated Press; By TIM REYNOLDS]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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