Deng, Heat overpower Hornets in opener

Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:16pm EDT
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(The Sports Xchange) - Luol Deng will have pleasant memories of his first playoff game with the Miami Heat.

Deng scored 31 points as the Heat routed the Charlotte Hornets 123-91 Sunday in Game 1 of the teams' first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

Deng shot 11-for-13 from the field and 5-for-7 from 3-point range in his first postseason appearance for the Heat, who never trailed and built a double-digit lead midway through the first quarter.

"The excitement and atmosphere was great," Deng said. "It makes you ready to play in a game like that. I appreciate the fact that I am back and that as a team we were ready."

Hassan Whiteside finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds in his playoff debut. Whiteside shot 9-for-11 from the field and blocked three shots.

"It's a blessing for me to be in the playoffs against my hometown team, and it's a real great chapter in my life," said Whiteside, of Gastonia, N.C. "We're in the playoffs, it's all or nothing, leave it out on the court. We just came out and played our hearts out as a team."

Dwyane Wade scored 16 points and Goran Dragic had nine points and 10 assists in his Miami playoff debut. Amar'e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson were Miami's other double-figure scorers with 11 points each.

Nicolas Batum scored 24 points and Kemba Walker finished with 19 points for the Hornets.

Miami finished with 27 assists compared to Charlotte's 11.   Continued...

Apr 17, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Luol Deng (9) shoots the ball in front of Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin (7) during the second half in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 123-91. Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports