In his first bucket since the NBA Finals, it was Bam who would draw first blood of the preseason. Despite roster changes with Jimmy, Goran and Iggy out the Heat still carried over continuity with the only new face being Moe Harkless in the starting lineup.
Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson both got on the board with threes, something that has become a familiar yet welcome sight for Miami fans. Herro also displayed his impressive ability to finish a the rim. He was excellent as the primary ball-handler early on, executing on offense and finding the open man.
The Pelicans kept things close to start with Zion, Ingram, Hart and Ball all delivering on offense. They have a lot of young talent, and the coaching from Stan Van Gundy will serve to make them better. As Heat fans know, he makes the most of young talent.
Bam displayed improvements in his jumper, shooting confidently from the midrange
KZ Okpala saw minutes early on and hit a three shortly after checking in. He was also solid on defense, doing a solid job guarding Zion.
The Heat were tough on defense, sending a lot of player to the line but that’s what also kept the Pelicans within striking distance. That and the Heat starting to stall from three-point range.
The Pelicans led by two going into the second quarter.
Brandon Ingram started to light the Heat up to start the second quarter increasing the Pelicans lead to nine. He wouldn’t slow down scoring nine points in less than 3 minutes.
The Heat reserves looked a little bit rusty, but there were flashes from Leonard, Nunn, and Bradley. Nunn looked like he was regaining his confidence after a tough postseason, still, he was rough from beyond the arc.
The Heat just didn’t have any answers for the Pelicans on defense. That would change somewhat with the starters coming back.
Pre-season or not, Bam displayed great hustle diving on the floor to get Duncan a slam dunk. Though I’m sure most fans were worried about his shoulder as he did it.
The Pelicans built on their lead up to 10 as they feasted in the paint, the Pelicans shot an impressive 53% from the field. On the other end, Miami entered a drought from beyond the arc. Suddenly there was very little flow to their offense and it showed.
Herro did his best to carry the weight, as he drove to the rim and earned points at the line, but it wasn’t enough to did the Heat out of their hole as the Pelicans continued their offensive assault.
Robinson hit a three to end the half, giving the Heat a chance as they went into halftime down only seven.
Bam showed off his passing ability to start the third with his seventh assist for a Harmless slam. Nunn also showed some offense, electing to drive to the rim with his shot not falling.
Miami continued to struggle from three, even with Duncan and Tyler hoisting up decent looks. But it wasn’t enough as New Orleans went on a 9-0 run.
Precious Achiuwa entered around the 8-minute mark to replace Bam and looked good. He scored 2 minutes in, and would follow that up with a slam. He showed hustle on both ends and looked good defensively. Almost like Bam lite. It will be interesting to see how develops in the Heat system.
Herro and others would show flashes, but with the Heat being outscored by over 25 to 16 in the quarter the game largely changed to getting the young guys some minutes.
Meyers Leonard looked a lot more mobile after falling victim to a nasty ankle injury last season that slowed him down. It will be interesting to see what kind of minutes he gets for the Heat this season after his new deal.
The Heat would go into the final quarter down 13.
Herro exited the game with an eye poke, and would not return.
The Pelicans continued their dominance with the Canadian, Alexander-Walker stretching their lead once again with a go-ahead three.
It wasn’t all bad from the Heat though, with Meyers Leonard continuing to shoot well from three, Achiuwa continuing to compete on both ends, and Strus also showing his ability from beyond the arc.
Miami just couldn’t pull back into this game as the Pelicans ran up the score. Still, it was nice to see the young Heat players get minutes.
The Heat will play their next preseason game on Friday against the Raptors. They’ll also get a rematch against the Pelicans at full strength on Christmas day.