Miami Heat vs. New Orleans Hornets: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Miami

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2013

Miami Heat vs. New Orleans Hornets: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Miami

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    The Miami Heat breezed past the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night, capturing their 25th road victory of the season by a score of 108-89.

    With the win, the Heat clinched home-court advantage through the Eastern Conference Finals and improved their record to a league-best 57-15.

    LeBron James was the offensive catalyst for the Heat once again, dropping a game-high 36 points on 13-of-20 shooting (including 7-of-10 from three).

    At one point, James knocked down six consecutive threes, setting the tone for a Heat team that converted on a staggering 60.9 percent of their looks from the field.

    Coming off of their first loss in 27 games, a comfortable victory was exactly what the Heat needed to get back on the winning track.

    Next up for Miami is a matchup with the San Antonio Spurs on Easter Sunday.

Point Guard

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    Dwyane Wade, PG: A-

    With Mario Chalmers out (via Ira Winderman on Twitter) due to a bum ankle, Dwyane Wade received the starting nod at point guard.

    Wade did a nice job filling in for Chalmers, dolling out nine assists as the team's primary ball-handler.

    Handling the ball gave Wade more opportunities to get sloppy, however, as he committed six turnovers in 33 minutes, including four in the first half.

    But, with LeBron James shouldering primary offensive responsibilities, Wade wasn't required to put together his most complete game of the season.

    A final line consisting of 17 points, nine assists and four steals was more than enough to get the job done in New Orleans.

Shooting Guard

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    Mike Miller, SG: C

    Mario Chalmers' absence meant a new face in Erik Spoelstra's starting lineup. Instead of inserting Norris Cole at point guard and disrupting his rotation, Spoelstra chose to shuffle his lineup, playing Mike Miller at shooting guard, with Dwyane Wade at point guard.

    The highlight of the game, and possibly the season, for Miller came on a second-quarter alley-oop courtesy of Dwyane Wade. Who knew the 33-year-old Miller still had that sort of bounce?

    Miller looked fresh in his seventh start of the season, finishing with six points and six rebounds.

Small Forward

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    LeBron James, SF: A+

    Like nearly every game, it was clear from the jump that LeBron James was going to be able to pick his spots against the New Orleans Hornets.

    James finished the game's first period with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including three consecutive three-pointers that capped a 32-point quarter for the Miami Heat.

    From there on out, James continued to fire away.

    LeBron opened the second quarter by knocking down his first five shots (including three from beyond the arc), and at one point led the Hornets by himself, 28-27.

    On a night in which he put the team on his back, the league's reigning MVP finished with 36 points on 13-of-20 shooting (7-of-10 from three), six assists, four rebounds and two steals in 32 minutes of work.

Power Forward

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    Udonis Haslem, PF: C

    Udonis Haslem's steady post defense and eight-foot jumper have made him a valuable complementary piece to the Miami Heat all season long.

    Haslem used those refined tools to his advantage on Friday night, and put together another workmanlike performance.

    Considering the Heat shot nearly 61 percent from the field, Haslem didn't have many opportunities to rebound, but he continued to play strong defense, hedging and switching well on pick-and-rolls.

    Haslem's final line consisted of four points and five rebounds.

Center

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    Chris Bosh, C: B

    Two-thirds of the Miami Heat's Big Three scored in double-figures in the first half, with just Chris Bosh falling four points short.

    Fortunately, the eight-time All-Star finished the night with double-digits in the scoring column, totaling 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting.

    It's easy to look at Bosh's final line and say he played an average game, but his defense was a big reason why the Heat were able to hold the Hornets to 43 first-half points.

    Anthony Davis managed just two points in the game's first 24 minutes, with Bosh playing stingy defense on the No. 1 overall pick.

    Bosh chipped in four rebounds, two assists and one block to go with his 10 points.

Sixth Man

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    Ray Allen, SG: D

    With the Miami Heat leading by 17 points after the first half, there wasn't much room for Ray Allen to contribute.

    The Heat's sixth man played the second-fewest minutes (11) of any Heat player in the first half, a sensible move by Erik Spoelstra, who's trying to save his shooter's legs for a long postseason run.

    On the night, Allen played 23 minutes, scored six points and dished out four assists.

Bench

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    Miami Bench: C

    Erik Spoelstra relied primarily on his starters before turning to his bench in the fourth quarter.

    Shane Battier, Chris Andersen and Norris Cole all saw normal rotational minutes, as the three combined for 26 points on the night. Cole accounted for 12 of those points.

    With Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh on the bench, Battier struggled to guard the lengthier Ryan Anderson, however, who scored a team-high 20 points.

    On a night when LeBron James stole the show once again, the Miami Heat bench was merely an afterthought.