The New Orleans Hornets were routed by the Miami Heat Friday night at the New Orleans Arena, 108-89.
The Hornets never had a chance. LeBron James devastated their defense early in the first quarter, putting up 15 points in the first period alone. James, the league’s leader in efficiency stats (32.2 EFF), scored 36 points on 65% shooting, and sat the entire fourth quarter.
James fired home a season high seven three pointers, six during a thirteen minute span during which he sank every field goal he attempted and all but one of his free throws.
Other Heat contributors included Dwayne Wade, Norris Cole and Chris Bosh, who scored 37 points combined, just one more point than LeBron by himself.
The Hornets stayed with the fast-paced Heat early in the first quarter, but Miami took the lead on an 8-0 run, making it 17-12. The Hornets’ Eric Gordon stopped the bleeding by hitting two free-throws, but James then began his tear. He landed three consecutive shots from downtown in less than a minute, and a free-throw for lagniappe before the end of the quarter.
James continued to fire in the second quarter. He scored 10 points, two more three-pointers and two jump-shots, in the first three minutes before cooling down for a bit. By the end of the quarter he had tacked on one more three for a total 13 points, after which he saluted a roaring crowd. The Heat led the Hornets 60-43 going into the halftime break.
“I made a couple [of early threes],” James said after the game. Guys like myself a D-Wade, we make a couple of threes, we kind of see if it’s the hot hand. If it’s one of those, I just kept it going.”
James said he’s clear on his role on the team. “I’m going to continue to be who I am on the floor and be who I am off the floor,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m here to win games and put our team in a position to win another championship.”
“When a guy like LeBron gets going like that, any kind of defense isn’t going to help you when he’s shooting from 25 feet away,” said Hornets Hornets head coach Monty Williams after the game.
Williams’ frustration with James and his team’s performance bubbled over moments later. When asked to compare James and Michael Jordan, who are often mentioned in the same breath as the best to ever play the game, Williams quipped, “Jordan played against men; LeBron plays against young boys. That’s the difference.”
Then he walked out of the press conference.
The Hornets defense fought back hard in the second half. In the third quarter they forced Miami into poor pass choices and created turnovers, but were unable to convert their hard-fought possessions into much offense. New Orleans only made seven shots in the third quarter, connecting at just 38.9%.
The Hornets trailed 81-60 going into the final quarter, and Miami continued to extend the lead before clearing their bench with 3:24 left to play.
James scored 8 points in the third period, and did not play in the fourth quarter.
Hornets’ Ryan Anderson led the team with 20 points tonight. This is the 25th time this season he has come off the bench to lead the team in scoring.
Al-Farouq Aminu collected 16 rebounds tonight, this ties his career high.
The Hornets outscored the Heat 21-4 in second chance points.
Eric Gordon scored 17 points, and was perfect from the free-throw line, 10-10.