It was Miami who would draw first blood off buckets from Tyler Johnson, Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson. Miami’s 8-0 scoring run would put them up ahead early.
Even without DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans have a lot of talent. Rondo is still a great playmaker and Anthony Davis is an otherworldly talent. Still, the Heat showed good defense, clogging the key and forcing the Pelicans to shoot.
The Pelicans would get going though after their slow start going on 7-0 run to cut their deficit to one and eventually take the lead. The Heat reserves looked solid, coming out and showing immediate energy.
The Heat and Pelicans would go back and forth for most of the quarter, but the Heat would work to create some distance in the final minutes. They’d go into the second up 5.
It was the Pelicans who would start hot in the second as they looked to steal the lead from Miami. Fortunately, Miami continued to score consistently even putting up some highlight plays like Wade’s lob to Bam. Speaking of Bam, he looked phenomenal as he drove aggressively and kept showing the hustle that he’s quickly becoming known for.
Pelicans’ guard, Ian Clark made things difficult for the Heat as he feasted on the Heat defense with both mid and long range jumpers. On offense, Whiteside picked up where he left on in the first putting on a show in the paint. They Heat looked sharp as the offense started to roll. Miami managed to score on 6 straight possessions, before Clark stopped the bleeding for New Orleans.
The Pelicans continued to chip away at the Heat lead, but through sheer force of will Hassan Whiteside kept Miami afloat. When he’s on, Whiteside can be a pure offensive force. That is especially helpful when Miami gets caught in their signature scoring drought like they were in the final minutes of the second.
Still offensive lapses and turnovers kept things too close for comfort. The Heat would head into the second half up only two.
While the Heat have struggled in third quarters this season, they started this one off strong scoring off a Dragic and Winslow steal. Unfortunately, the Pelicans took advantage of almost all Miami mistakes to keep things close.
Anthony Davis really is something else, the way he manages to finish baskets on and-1s and convert at the line is spectacular. That coupled with the fact that he’s a prolific jumper make him one of the best players in the league. Still, I was surprised when they revealed his stat line at the 7 minute mark and he had 28 points.
Miami fought hard on the defensive end. Their hustle was evident as they crashed the boards and fought for all loose balls. This defensive effort was largely responsible for a 10-2 scoring run that gave the Heat an eight point lead.
Though the Pelicans would continue to fight hard, but it Miami’s play in transition would allow them to maintain the lead. Heat All-Star (that’s nice to say) Goran Dragic killed the Pelicans in transition off some tough layups (he had 21 points headed into the fourth). The Heat and Pelicans would once again go back and forth as the quarter came to a close. Despite New Orleans’ efforts, the Heat would lead by 5 headed into the fourth quarter.
Wayne Ellington would get the fourth quarter started with a signature three pointer, but the Pelicans wouldn’t fold easily. They continued to take advantage on second chance opportunities and defensive stops. Emeka Okafor made it look like 2005 as he continuously swatted away Miami’s shot attempts in the key. The Pelicans would go on an 8-0 run and tie the game, as the Heat entered a scoring drought.
Fortunately the Heat would get things going again off a great and one drive by Josh Richardson. On defense, Miami did a really great job forcing the Pelicans to slow down and enter a set offense. Much of their success this game had come from quick buckets off steals, or in transition. By making them slow down, the Pelicans made more mistakes that would result in Miami buckets on the other end.
Despite Miami’s effort, the Pelicans would take the lead with about 4 minutes to go thanks to the play Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis. All of a sudden, the Heat had no answers on offense forcing Spo to take a timeout and figure things out.
Wade would stop the bleeding on a nice floater, but as the game entered the final two minutes the Pelicans, put their foot on the gas. Only down four, the Heat still had a chance. Dragic would sink two at the free throw line to get them within striking distance. A Richardson/Dragic/Whiteside (they all played a part) steal would get DWade to the free throw line with 34.3 seconds left. He would sink both to tie the game.
The Pelicans elected to go to Davis the following play, and he’d sink a jumper to take the lead. After a timeout, Miami would go to Wade and he’s miss his jumper. Luckily, Dragic swooped in for a rebound and layup to tie things up with 14 seconds remaining.
On their final possession, New Orleans would try and win it on a Davis’ drive. He’d miss allowing the Heat to grab the rebound and call a timeout. With .8 of a second left the Heat would go to Wayne Ellington for a lob, it didn’t work and he’d step out of bounds. The clock would run out and the game would go to overtime.
James Johnson would get Miami rolling on a nice jumper, and Dragic would follow it up on a three. Dragic looked ready to will Miami to a win. Still, New Orleans would score on a few possessions to tie things up once again.
With 1:43 left, Hassan would foul out and Anthony Davis would score his 40th point at the line. The Heat would follow up with a miss by Wade and the Pelicans would take advantage on a Davis slam to go up by two. James Johnson would tie the game up on the other end on a great drive, Wade would put the Heat up by two off a runner on the next offensive possession.
With 35 seconds left, Miami’s defense on the inbounder (Mirotic) would force the Pelicans to use their last timeout. New Orleans would inbound to Davis who’d get fouled on a drive and score at the line, putting New Orleans up 1 with 29 seconds left. Wade would score on another runner to put Miami up one, but Holiday would dart down the court and score. With no timeouts left Miami had one more chance and would go to the hot hand. Wade would shoot a contested jumper and miss, and though Richardson would go up for a second attempt it didn’t fall.
The Heat would lose, by one.