Miami Heat dismantle Charlotte Hornets with record playoff points performance

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The Miami Heat cruised to a 1-0 lead in their playoff opener against the Charlotte Hornets with a 123-89 victory at the American Airlines Arena this evening.

Key to the win was complete dominance off the glass at both ends; the home side finished up with 42 rebounds to Charlotte's 28, while the Heat also out-shot their opponents by 20, helping them surpass their previous record playoff points total of 121.

Miami bounced back from their meltdown against the Celtics, shooting almost 60% to rack up 67 points at the half - a lead of 17.

Luol Deng was the star of the show at the midway stage with 18 points, five rebounds and one assist, while he was ably supported by Dwyane Wade's 12 points. Deng would end up with 31 points, just two short of his career high, which came against Miami in 2007, and a career-high seven rebounds.

For the Hornets, Nicolas Batum was the only player to reach double figures with 20 points to his name - no one else on his team managed more than nine before the break.

Charlotte did at least show some spirit to stay in the game after slipping behind in the first quarter by 19 points, but just nine rebounds compared to the Heat's 23 at half-time and zero assists for Batum and Kemba Walker told much of the story.

If the Heat were on top in the fist half they pressed on even harder at the start of the second, adding seven unanswered points to open up a 24 point lead - the biggest gap of the night up to that point.

Deng's hot streak continued as he took his three point shooting to four from five after Wade missed his own effort from beyond the arc - meaning the 34-year-old has made just one of his last 49 attempts from distance.

Deng the stand-out performer in the first half and returned to pass the 30-point mark, but it was an impressive performance from Hassan Whiteside, who dominated the paint in his first career playoff game, after the break that stole the show.

The center would finish the game with 21 points and 11 rebounds - becoming just the eighth Heat player to record a double-double in their first ever post-season appearance.

The Marshall University graduate is set to become an unrestricted free agent next season and improved his chances of a sizeable new contract in Miami with an imposing performance when it mattered most.

The Heat were able to extend their lead by a further six in the third as they improved their overall FG% to 61.5, and reached the 100-point mark early on in the fourth. The home side's lead stood at 31 with less than five minutes of the fourth quarter left, and while their overall shooting fell slightly to just below 58% by the final buzzer, it was still a seriously impressive night's work from Erik Spoelstra's team.

With Game 2 of the series not until Wednesday, the Hornets will have time to regroup and consider their approach after a chastening opener in which they were largely out-muscled by Miami.

What can Charlotte change to turn things around in Game 2? 

Charlotte Hornets
Southeast Division
Eastern Conference
Miami Heat
Dwyane Wade
Jeremy Lin
NBA Playoffs
Luol Deng

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