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Miami Heat hot from floor as they take lead against Charlotte Hornets

By Reuters - Apr 21,2016 - Last updated at Apr 21,2016

Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets drives on Josh Richardson of the Miami Heat during their Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarter-finals of the 2016 NBA play-offs in Miami on Wednesday (AFP photo by Mike Ehrmann)

Shooting better than 55 per cent for the second consecutive game, the Miami Heat defeated the Charlotte Hornets 115-103 in Game 2 of an Eastern Conference first-round series on Wednesday.

After a franchise play-off-best first half of shooting, the Heat held on in the second half to protect home-court advantage and go up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series, which continues with Game 3 on Saturday in Charlotte.

The Hornets cut an 18-point deficit in the third quarter to seven with under four minutes to play, but the Heat clamped down defensively and Dwyane Wade, who led Miami with 28 points and eight assists, hit two key baskets late.

Hassan Whiteside scored 17 points on 8-of-8 shooting from the field and Luol Deng had 16 points. They were two of five Heat players to finish in double figures as they shot 57.9 per cent from the floor.

Whiteside added 13 rebounds and two blocks, and Goran Dragic pitched in 18 points and Josh Richardson scored 15.

While the Heat were 9 of 16 from 3-point range, the Hornets hit just 1 of 16 from beyond the arc.

Kemba Walker had a game-high 29 points and Al Jefferson scored 25 on 12-of-17 shooting from the floor for the Hornets.

Countering the success of Walker and Jefferson, Marvin Williams missed all 10 of his shots from the floor to finish scoreless.

Nicolas Batum had nine points and seven rebounds but left early in the fourth quarter with a sprained left ankle and did not return.

Miami took a 72-60 lead into half-time thanks to shooting a franchise play-off-best 74.4 per cent from the field in the first half, including 7 of 10 on 3-pointers while converting its final 10 shots from the floor in the first half.

Dragic hit all three of his first-half 3-point attempts.

Jefferson, with 16 points in the second quarter, kept the Hornets in it with a flurry of baskets from the low post and mid-range, at one point converting eight of Charlotte’s last nine field goals made.

The Heat matched their Game 1 turnover total of six in the first quarter alone but shot 65 per cent from the field in the quarter as the teams were tied at 29 through one.

Cavaliers tie three-point record

LeBron James scored 27 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers tied an NBA play-off record with 20 3-pointers in a 107-90 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday in Game 2 of an NBA Western Conference play-off series.

The Cavaliers lead the series 2-0 with Game 3 on Friday night at Detroit.

The Cavs struggled to put away the Pistons in Game 1 and struggled again until late in the third quarter.

They trailed by 10 points early and still were behind midway through the third quarter before a Kevin Love 3-pointer gave Cleveland the lead for good at 63-62.

Love’s basket started a flurry of five 3-pointers in the final 6:49 of the quarter.

J.R. Smith’s 3-pointer in the final minute of the third — his seventh of the game — extended the lead to 82-68 entering the fourth quarter and the Cavs coasted from there.

The 20 3-pointers were more than the Cavs made in any game during the regular season and made them the fourth team to hit 20 in a postseason game. The most recent was the Golden State Warriors last year.

Smith scored 21 points (all on 3-pointers) and Kyrie Irving had 22 points and four assists, including 13 in the first quarter. Love finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds after fighting early foul trouble.

Andre Drummond had 20 points and seven rebounds for the Pistons.

Reggie Jackson contributed 14 points and six assists, although he managed just one basket in the second half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points.

After Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy was fined $25,000 for complaining about the officiating during Game 1, the calls certainly seemed to favour the Pistons.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert tweeted at half-time about the free throw disparity. The Pistons shot 20 free throws in the first half compared with one for the Cavs.

Cleveland shot 14 in the game and the Pistons shot 32. The Cavs didn’t need free throws on a night they made 20 of 38 3-pointers.

Clippers roll

Chris Paul scored 25 points and the Los Angeles Clippers rolled to a 102-81 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers to take a 2-0 edge in their Western Conference quarter-final series on Wednesday.

J.J. Redick scored 13 of his 17 points in the first half for Los Angeles, while Blake Griffin added 12 points and nine rebounds. DeAndre Jordan collected 18 rebounds but scored only three points.

Damian Lillard and Mason Plumlee had 17 points apiece, and CJ McCollum chipped in 16 points for the Trail Blazers. Plumlee also had 10 rebounds. Maurice Harkless contributed 12 points and seven rebounds.

Game 3 is on Saturday in Portland.

Los Angeles posted double-digit leads throughout the contest, but each time Portland wiped them out until the final quarter, when the Clippers pulled away for their fifth consecutive decision over the Blazers.

A finger roll by Jamal Crawford, who finished with 11 points, capped an 11-2 run for a 78-63 edge with 8:03 left in the contest. The Clippers never allowed the lead to reach single digits again.

In the third quarter, the Blazers got down by as much as 12 after a basket by Paul less than three minutes into the period.

However, an 11-2 surge pulled the Trail Blazers within 59-56 after a McCollum jumper with 4:58 left in the third.

The teams played pretty much even the rest of the quarter, with the Clippers taking a 67-61 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

The Clippers led by as much as 15 in the second quarter before the Trail Blazers rallied and closed the gap to 47-43 at the break.

Portland was able to wipe out the deficit despite shooting only 34 per cent in the first half, including 38.1 per cent in the second quarter.

Los Angeles shot 42.2 per cent in the first half and 47.8 per cent in the second quarter.

Both clubs struggled in the third quarter, with the Blazers making only 25 per cent of their shots to 37.5 per cent for the Clippers.

For the game, the Clippers hit 46 per cent of their shots to 34.1 per cent for the Blazers.

 

The Clippers’ bench also outscored the Blazers’ reserves 43-10.

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