Luol Deng Drops 31 to Lead Miami to Game 1 Victory -

Luol Deng Drops 31 to Lead Miami to Game 1 Victory

Luol Deng scored 31 points on 11-for-13 shooting and the Miami Heat wasted no time taking control of what became a 123-91 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

The GB star who turned 31 years old on Saturday added 7 rebounds and 1 assist, finishing two short of his playoff career-high of 33 which he scored against the Heat in Game 1 of Chicago’s 2007 series.

The performance marks the culmination of a return to prominence for Deng, ever since Chris Bosh’s latest battle with blood clots, which saw Luol move across to the power forward spot.

Heat writer Ethan Skolnick has the figures:

“He was last on the team in plus-minus (minus-118) prior to the All-Star break, averaging 10.6 points and 4.7 rebounds on 43.1 percent shooting.

“He was first on the team in plus-minus (plus-144) after the All-Star break, averaging 15.2 points and 8.1 rebounds on 48.4 percent shooting.”

Deng was on fire against Charlotte, knocking down an assortment of jumpshots including four three pointers.

“They do a good job of taking away the paint, they’re one of the best teams at that, I thought we did a good job of just moving the ball,” Deng said post-game.

The game was Deng’s first in the playoffs in two years.

“Very excited,” he said of his return to the post-season.

“I mean, I haven’t been in the playoffs for two years but the excitment, the atmosphere was great. If you’re not ready to play in a game like that and you don’t love the game…I appreciate the fact that I’m back in there and I thought as a team we were ready.”

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