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HHH GameTime Preview: Heat Host Pelicans

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The Heat open up a busy Christmas Day in the NBA with a home matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans at noon.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

On Christmas Day, at noon, the Miami Heat will close out their four-game homestand with a 12:00 matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans. This season will only see the two teams play twice, with the rematch occuring on March 22nd in New Orleans.

Miami is closing up a four-game stand. The first three games would see them lose to the Toronto Raptors, 108-94 on Friday, defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 116-109 on Sunday, and lose to the Detroit Pistons, 93-92 on Tuesday. They'll hit the road to face the Orlando Magic tomorrow night before returning to the AAA on Monday to face the Brooklyn Nets.

For the Pelicans, this game represents a one-game roadtrip sandwiched by two one-game homestands. They defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, 115-89 on Wednesday, and will host the Houston Rockets tomorrow night.

The last time the Heat and Pelicans played was on February 27th of last season. The 30-27 Pelicans hosted the 25-31 Heat at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA and came away with a 104-102 victory. Alexis Ajinca led New Orleans off the bench with 24 points on nine-of-10 shooting, with eight rebounds. Eric Gordon had 20 points with eight dimes, and Tyreke Evans had 19 with 11 assists. Luol Deng had 22 points for Miami. Goran Dragic scored 20 with five assists, Hassan Whiteside had 16 with seven boards and four blocks, and Henry Walker scored 16.

I was just trying to do the right play at the right time. It happened I was by myself, so Eric threw a very good pass and I just made the basket. - Ajinca, who's 24 points were a career high.

NBA.COM Recap & Boxscore

On Tuesday, the Heat dropped a 93-92 matchup against the Detroit Pistons. Hassan Whiteside led Miami with 16 points, 16 boards and four blocked shots. Chris Bosh had a game-high 20 points, Dwyane Wade had 19 with five rebounds, and Beno Udrih had 14 points and six assists. Reggie Jackson scored 18 points to lead the Pistons, while Andre Drummond had 11 points and 12 rebounds.

I'd love to have that shot back again. - Wade, who missed a shot that would have taken the lead with under 10 seconds remaining.

NBA.COM Recap & Boxscore

On Wednesday, the Pelicans handily defeated the Portland Trail Blazers at Smoothie King Center by a 115-89 final. Anthony Davis led them with 28 points and 12 rebounds, while Tyreke Evans had 24, nine boards and eight dimes. Jrue Holiday came off the bench with 19 points and five assists. CJ McCollum had 19 with seven assists and five rebounds to lead the Blazers.

I thought we were good at just being solid defensively. We didn't have the breakdowns or the roll to the baskets or anything like that. Hopefully it's another step in the consistency of what we're trying to do. - Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry.

NBA.COM Recap & Boxscore

GameTime, where to watch: Noon, on ESPN

Line: Heat by minus-6

All-Time: "Officially," the Heat are 13-16 against the Pelicans all-time, but this team used to be the Charlotte Hornets, then the "New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets," and the games played as "Charlotte" now count toward the team of that name's all-time statistics. Miami's .448 win percentage against them is their ninth worst against any team.

Standings

Miami Heat: 16-11, .593, on pace for 49-33. Second in the Southeast Division, fourth in the Eastern Conference, seventh in the NBA. Last five: W-W-L-W-L.

New Orleans Pelicans: 9-19, .321, on pace for 26-56. Fifth in the Southwest Division, 14th in the Western Conference, 27th in the NBA. Last five: L-W-L-W-W.

Injury Report

Heat

Player Date Type Note
Chris Andersen 2015-12-20 Illness Andersen is questionable to play against the Pelicans on Friday due to an illness.
Goran Dragic 2015-12-22 Hand Dragic is nursing a hand injury and is questionable to play Friday against the Pelicans.
Tyler Johnson 2015-12-17 Shoulder Johnson is questionable to return to the lineup Friday against the Pelicans due to a shoulder injury.
Josh McRoberts 2015-12-11 Knee McRoberts is questionable to suit up Friday against the Pelicans due to knee soreness.

Pelicans

Player Date Type Note
Alexis Ajinca 2015-12-19 Calf Ajinca missed the last three games with a strained left calf and is questionable to play Friday against the Heat.
Norris Cole 2015-12-23 Knee Cole is questionable to return to the lineup against the Heat on Friday due to a left knee injury.
Quincy Pondexter 2015-10-23 Knee Pondexter will miss an undetermined amount of time with a knee injury.

Common Thread

Pelicans point guard Norris Cole spent his first three and a half NBA seasons with the Heat, scoring 6.2 points, 2.6 assists, and 1.8 rebounds per game. He helped the team to two NBA titles in his first two professional seasons.

Heat big-man Chris Andersen played in parts of three seasons with the then-New Orleans Hornets, playing in 104 games and scoring 6.5 points with 5.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.

Milestones

Field Goals - Udonis Haslem will become the fifth Heat player to eclipse 2,600 field goals with his next bucket.

Three Pointers - Luol Deng will tie Jon Sundvold in 34th with three three-pointers, which will tie them at 108.

Rebounds - Hassan Whiteside will bass Dorell Wright (780) and Billy Owens (788) with 12 rebounds, placing him in 29th with 789.

Assists - Goran Dragic, if he plays, will pass Ray Allen (278) and Willie Burton (285) into 43rd with 10 assists, which would give him 286.

Blocks - Whiteside will tie John Salley in 11th all-time with two blocks, giving them both 233.

Points - Chris Bosh (6,378 in seventh) is 30 points behind Udonis Haslem (6,408 in sixth).

After the game, tune into ABC for the Chicago Bulls vs. Oklahoma City Thunder at 2:30 and the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors, at 5. Later, the San Antonio Spurs face the Houston Rockets at 8 and the Los Angeles Clippers face the Lakers at 10:30 on ESPN. The Bird Writes has more on the Pelicans.