Hornets pull even with Sixers for fifth in East


MIAMI (AP) -- The Charlotte Hornets were just where they feel
most comfortable -- on the road again.

Jamal Mashburn scored 23 points and sparked a fourth-quarter
rally to lead the road-happy Charlotte Hornets to an 88-81 victory
over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.

Mashburn scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to help the
Hornets overcome an 11-point deficit. The Hornets pulled even with
Philadelphia for the fifth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Charlotte forward P.J. Brown left the game in the third quarter
with a sprained left ankle and did not return.

Brown will be held out of Wednesday's final game against Chicago
but is hopeful of being ready for the playoffs.

"It looked worse," Brown said. "I didn't feel anything pop.
You just have to give it time to heal, and I don't have much of
that. Hopefully I'll be ready for the playoffs."

Brown scored nine points and had eight rebounds before leaving
with 3:19 left in the third quarter.

Jamaal Magliore scored 15 points and Lee Nailon 14, both off the
bench, and George Lynch had 10 rebounds, also as a reserve.

Alonzo Mourning scored 25 points for the Heat, and Eddie Jones
added 13.

Charlotte is the only team in the league with a better record on
the road (23-18) than at home.

"We've been successful on the road. It's all about having
confidence in each other," Mashburn said.

Miami, which has lost 11 of its last 15 games overall, finished
with its first losing home record (18-23) since the 1990-91 season.

After losing by 27 points at home to the Knicks on Sunday, the
Heat managed just 10 points in the fourth quarter and shot 38
percent for the game.

Miami shot just 4-for-22 during the fourth quarter.

"Charlotte turned it up big-time in the last eight minutes,"
Heat coach Pat Riley said. "We couldn't make shots. It's the same
disease all the time. We play great for three quarters, almost
wire-to-wire, then go dead in the water."

Charlotte rallied from a 77-66 deficit in the fourth quarter,
putting together a 19-2 run to pull away down the stretch.
Mashburn's free throws put the Hornets ahead 80-79 with 3:26 left,
and his fadeaway made it 82-79 with 1:38 to go.

Lee Nailon converted a fast-break layup and foul shot to stretch
the lead to 85-79 with 45 seconds left.

"We did not play with energy for the first three quarters,"
Charlotte coach Paul Silas said. "We were searching for five guys
who would pick it up. We found a way to win, and that's

The Hornets, with one game left, can finish anywhere from fourth
to sixth in the East.

"The Eastern Conference is wide open," Mashburn said. "It
will come down to the team with the most focus, who makes the most
shots and makes the stops."

The Heat used a 34-point second quarter to turn a 21-18 deficit
into a 52-43 halftime lead. Mourning had 18 points and seven
rebounds in the first half.

"The bottom line is that we didn't put together a win,"
Mourning said. "The fans deserve more than that. I commend them
for being there and supporting us throughout the season,
considering the situation. It surprised me that they gave us the
kind of support they did tonight."

Game notes
Heat forward Brian Grant, who injured his elbow Sunday
against the Knicks, missed the game and will also not play
Wednesday against Orlando. ... Charlotte is the only team in the
league with a better record on the road (23-18) than at home
(20-20). ... With Grant out, Vladimir Stepania made only his fourth
start of the season for Miami and had six points and eight rebounds
... Charlotte has won 12 of its last 19 vs. Miami. ...The Hornets
swept the series 3-0, making this the first time in the 14-year
history of the series that either team has won every game.