Anthony Davis started off slowly but dominated the second half to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 91-87 win over the visiting Miami Heat.
Coming off last night’s encouraging win against the L.A. Lakers, they had a golden opportunity to steal a crucial road victory but were unable to match Davis and Jrue Holiday down the stretch. Ultimately it was yet another frustrating loss, representing the Heat’s seventh defeat by a margin of five points or less.
Goran Dragic started the game aggressively, racking up 13 points in the first quarter and Miami grabbing the early lead by shooting well from three-point territory, converting five of their first seven attempts. Hassan Whiteside again started slowly for the second straight time and he didn’t get his first basket with two minutes left in the first quarter. He did grab 18 rebounds but finished just 4-10 from the field for 10 points, not nearly as many field goal attempts to get him going offensively.
A Josh Richardson three gave the Heat their biggest lead of the night at the time at 60-48 five minutes into the second half but the Pelicans responded with 5-0 run. Both the third and the fourth quarter continued that trend, with one team going on a run and the other team responding. Miami went back up 68-54 after an 8-1 run but Pelicans again got right back into it by scoring 10 straight points to close the third quarter.
Davis was the catalyst with 13 points in the third quarter and teamed up with Holiday to lead the charge for New Orleans in the final quarter. They took their first lead since the first quarter but the Heat charged back scoring nine straight points with a lineup of Tyler Johnson, Richardson, Willie Reed, James Johnson and Luke Babbitt. Once again, New Orleans came back with a 12-0 run to erase Miami’s lead once and for all with Davis finishing with a career-high 22 rebounds and 28 points.
Though the team suffered another close loss, the hope is that these growing pains will ultimately serve as a learning experience for the younger players down the road.
Miami heads into Christmas with a three-day break and will next play the Oklahoma City Thunder on the 27th.