Miami arguably put together their best first half of the season by dominating a listless Pelicans team on the second night of a back-to-back. They had a 31-point lead in the second quarter but could little to stop Anthony Davis in the second half as he almost single-handedly led his team to the brink of a huge comeback victory.
After ditching the cool but cursed Vice Nights jersey, an early 8-0 run helped Miami open their first double-digit lead in the first quarter led by J-Rich and assisted by a nice start from James Johnson, who had his moments tonight as he works his way back to regular season form. Wade (18 points) also immediately gave a boost to the Heat as soon as he entered the game, with the team desperate for more playmaking in the absence of Goran Dragic. Kelly Olynyk also scored some big baskets off the bench and finished with 13 points.
Miami closed the first quarter on an 18-2 run and 64% FG shooting for an efficient 37 points. Their biggest lead of the season soon followed at 52-21 halfway through the second quarter while New Orleans missed their first 11 shots from beyond the arc and Davis unable to make his presence truly felt on the offensive side.
And yet, continuing with the emotional rollercoaster of this Heat season, they allowed the Pelicans to shave 11 points off a 31-point deficit with 2:30 left to play in the first half — giving them some confidence entering halftime that the game wasn’t over and there was plenty left to play for.
Davis came to life after the break once he started getting aggressive from mid-range instead of trying to attack the paint, scoring his team’s first eleven points to further trim the Heat’s lead. Suddenly they came back to life and kept whittling the deficit down while Miami was unable to answer back with little in terms of playmaking for others with the exception of Wade. Thankfully, Rodney McGruder came through with nine of the team’s 20 points in the third quarter and plenty of his trademark hustle but it wasn’t nearly enough to boost their lead back up.
Tim Frazier’s 3-pointer finally cut it to single-digits at 77-68 near the end of the third quarter and Davis saved his best for last to the chagrin of Heat fans desperate to see a win at the AmericanAirlines Arena. Indeed, it felt more like the Heat squeaked by thanks to the clock running out on the Pelicans, with help from Wayne Ellington and Josh Richardson coming through with clutch baskets to hold on to the lead for dear life.
Richardson ended up with 20 points but was a non-factor offensively in the second half which only aided New Orleans’ comeback effort. His only field goal in that half was ultimately the Heat’s most important basket of the game to help put them up 105-100 with 26 seconds left after the Pelicans got as close as three points away from tying the game.