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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — They needed all 82 games of the regular season to get the opportunity to play Game 7 of the opening round at home but the Miami Heat took full advantage.

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A trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals is their reward.

Goran Dragic scored 25 points and grabbed six rebounds his first Game 7, Gerald Green added 16 points off the bench and the Heat eliminated the Charlotte Hornets with an emphatic 106-73 win on Sunday. Miami took the series 4-3, led by as many as 38 and will play either Toronto or Indiana in the East semis starting on Tuesday night.

Luol Deng scored 15, Dwyane Wade finished with 12 and Hassan Whiteside had a 10-point, 12-rebound, five-block clincher for the Heat, who have won their last four Game 7s — each of the previous three coming along the way to winning NBA championships.

Wade has played in 29 postseason series; the Heat have won 22 of them. And under coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat are now 15-4 in postseason series, 8-4 when facing elimination games and 15-5 in games when they have a chance to oust an opponent.

Frank Kaminsky scored 12 for Charlotte, which got 11 from Courtney Lee and 10 from Nic Batum. The Hornets’ two biggest stars, Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, never got going — Walker shot 3 for 16 and scored only nine points, while Jefferson put up a mere four points and two rebounds.

A contentious series, filled at times with anger over calls and non-calls — not to mention attention on courtside fans and NBA officiating reports — pushed Miami to the limit. Charlotte had a chance to close out the Heat on its home floor in Game 6, wasting the opportunity.

The Hornets never had a chance in Game 7.

Miami led the whole way, taking a 12-point lead at the half and stretching it to 24 before the midpoint of the third quarter — the period that has been a problem for the Heat all season but became the catalyst to a rout on Sunday. And with that, it was obvious that Charlotte’s season was going to be bookended.

It started with a loss in Miami.

And it ended with a loss in Miami.

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Walker, who had 37 points in Game 6 and at times was unguardable in the series, had only two at the half in his first Game 7. Jefferson, Charlotte’s best big man, didn’t get his first rebound until the third quarter was 2½ minutes old. Miami scored 40 of the game’s first 54 points in the paint, grabbed 35 of the first 55 rebounds and turned five of Charlotte’s first six turnovers into points.


Hornets: Charlotte finished 5-6 against Miami this season. … Owner Michael Jordan was in a suite and got a first-half visit from Scottie Pippen — his teammate for six championships in Chicago. … Spencer Hawes (knee) was active, even though Charlotte said after Game 5 he was out for the rest of the series. He didn’t play. … Walker shot 56 for 153 (37 percent) in the series.

Heat: Whiteside (24) passed Alonzo Mourning for the most blocks by a Miami player in a seven-game series. Mourning’s record was 21. … The Heat paid tribute to their NBA Development League affiliate Sioux Falls SkyForce during a second-quarter time out. The SkyForce won the D-League title last week, after setting a league record for regular-season victories. … Tyler Johnson (shoulder) got his first playing time since January, coming in late in the fourth.


Charlotte actually came into Sunday with more players who appeared in past Game 7s (six) than Miami (five). Dragic and Deng never appeared in a Game 7 before Sunday and were the two leading Heat scorers in the first half, combining for 26.

The Heat are now 6-3 all-time in Game 7s, and 7-6 in ultimate games (when counting Game 5s in best-of-five series). Charlotte is 0-2 in Game 7s.


Hornets coach Steve Clifford said Charlotte associate head coach Patrick Ewing will interview with the Sacramento Kings about their head coaching vacancy. Ewing has been an NBA assistant since 2002, working with Washington, Houston, Orlando and Charlotte.

Ewing played for Mike Jarvis in high school, John Thompson in college and the likes of Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy in the NBA. “He believes in balance, he believes in work, he believes in defense and he believes in structure,” Clifford said, adding that Ewing — despite his lineage as one of the game’s all-time great players — never took a shortcut in his coaching career.

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