Home court looming larger in series

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Hornets hope Miami forward Lamar Odom was right about at least one thing -- that perhaps their opening-round playoff series is meant to go seven games.

Odom suggested the series might stretch to the limit after New
Orleans' 96-85 victory in Game 4 left each team with a pair of home

Now that the home team has once again emerged victorious from
Game 5 in Miami, the Heat have a chance to eliminate the Hornets in
New Orleans on Sunday afternoon.

But winning on the road has been quite a chore for the Heat, and
Hornets forward P.J. Brown thinks Miami will be skittish in New

"There's doubt in their mind. I don't think they're too
confident that they're going to come here and close this thing
out," Brown said Saturday. "They haven't played well here. We've
been able to protect our home court."

Brown even suggested that Miami's 30-point victory in Game 2 is
the only game the Heat should have won.

"We feel like this series should have been over or at least we
should be leading 3-2," Brown said. "In Game 1 and Game 5 we
controlled our destiny in both games."

Miami didn't take the lead for good in Game 1 until rookie
Dwyane Wade hit a driving floater with 1.3 seconds to go. In Game
5, New Orleans led by 11 in the first half and was up 58-49 midway
through the third quarter. The game was tied in final minute, and
Miami was in danger of turning the ball over on a shot-clock
violation when Wade hit a 3-pointer with 54 seconds left.

Heat center Brian Grant conceded that the Hornets played well
enough to win Game 5.

"If you look at the numbers ... they should have won the
game," he said. "We were able to pull it out by stopping them at
crucial moments of the fourth, going up and not allowing them to
get back in it."

Miami does not expect the Hornets to fold now that they're
facing elimination.

"We haven't won a playoff game on the road yet, and I think
that's where the real challenge comes in," Grant said. "It's
going to be very hostile."

Miami has been close in the fourth quarter of both playoff
losses in New Orleans, which is encouraging to Heat coach Stan Van

"The first thing you've got to do on the road is get to the
fourth quarter to have a chance," Van Gundy said. "The hardest
thing on the road actually is to get there."

Hornets guard Baron Davis did not participate in a light practice Saturday, but that hardly seems to matter. Playing on a
sore left ankle, Davis has gotten better as the series has gone on. He had 33 points on Friday night.

"We've gotten to where we expect that out of him and we hope to see it again in Game 6," Hornets coach Tim Floyd said. "I think he's in good shape."

Floyd, in his first NBA playoffs, takes an experienced squad into his first elimination game -- not that he thinks it'll make a big difference.

"All those intangibles are only important if you win. Miami's not thinking about our experience right now. They're thinking about execution and that's what we need to be thinking about," Floyd

"Our guys have confidence we can win. That's certainly important."

In the second round of the 2001 playoffs, the Hornets forced a Game 7 against Milwaukee after falling behind 2-0 and 3-2. But the Hornets have never won such a series. And if New Orleans wins Game 6, it will still be faced with one more game in Miami, where the Heat have now won 15 in a row -- and all five games there against Hornets this season.

Perhaps that's why Odom last week was willing to concede the possibility of a Game 7.

"This year we were decent, maybe less than decent on the road," Odom said. "We defended our home turf well, and in this league, that's really important."