Luol Deng set Miami Heat franchise record in Game One win over Charlotte

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Football News

Great British Olympian Luol Deng was the star of the show for the Miami Heat last night as they took a 1-0 series lead over the Charlotte Hornets. 

The three-time champions blew away the Hornets to win 123-91 and Deng was the chief protagonist as he ended the night with 31 points.

In his first playoff game for the Southeast Division franchise, he shot an impressive 84.6 percent from his 13 field goal attempts, including nailing four of his six shots from three-point territory. He also had seven rebounds. 

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His performance at the American Airlines Center broke a franchise record for points scored in a playoff debut and, with Chris Bosh likely to miss the whole offseason, Heat fans will be hoping Deng can continue in the same vain. 

Speaking after the game, Deng, who represented Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics, said: "I haven't been in the Playoffs for two years. 

"The excitement, the atmosphere was great. If you're not ready to play in a game like that, then you don't really love the game. I appreciate the fact that I'm back in [the postseason]."

The two-time All-Star has brought valuable experience to a Heat roster full of young, emerging talent and head coach Erik Spoelstra spoke highly of the 31-year-old's understanding of the game. 

"He's an experienced veteran player who's had playoff experience, who wants to make winning plays," he said. "He wants to help a team. That will be different things, different nights. I think he's emotionally stable enough to understand that it doesn't have to be four 3s, 31 points. It might be a charge, 12 rebounds, a tough defensive assignment."

Having endured so many battles with Deng during his ten-year spell with the Chicago Bulls, Dwyane Wade is seeing the pros of having him on the same side and jokingly admitted it has taken some time for him to like the forward.

He said: "I think I just started liking him like two months ago, playing against him so many times in Chicago. 

"Especially since Chris [Bosh] went down, he's been phenomenal for us, really playing a new position. A night like tonight, to score 31 points and everything is in the flow of the offence. He's really reading the game well."

The Heat are back in action on Thursday at 12 am and will be confident of taking a 2-0 lead back to North Carolina after their opening performance.

Miami Heat
Southeast Division
Eastern Conference
Dwyane Wade
Luol Deng

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