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Jimmy Butler returns, Heat bury Pelicans 103-93

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Butler put up 29 points in the Heat’s last game before the All-Star break.

NBA: Miami Heat at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat came out of the gates on fire against the New Orleans Pelicans behind a stellar performance from Kelly Olynyk, who scored 10 first-quarter points in the 103-93 victory on Thursday, March 4.

Prior to the game, the Heat re-added star Jimmy Butler to the lineup but in his place, lost Bam Adebayo, who was ruled out with left knee tendinitis. Similarly, the Pelicans ruled Zion Williamson and J.J. Redick out for the game. In Adebayo’s place, the Heat started KZ Okpala, who finished with five points, five rebounds and two blocks while playing remarkable defense throughout the game and ending the game as a plus-10, good for third on the team.

Miami’s first-quarter charge led by Olynyk and Butler would be the team’s most fruitful quarter, with the Heat leading New Orleans 31-15 at the end of the first. The Heat’s offense came crashing down once more as the game went on, managing just 46 combined points through the next two quarters.

The difference between the last game against the Atlanta Hawks and this game was the presence of Butler, who finished with 29 points, nine assists and three steals, carrying the team to victory. Butler’s best play of the night came on a made 3-pointer with under three minutes left in the game following a steal and another 3-point play off a jumper.

Miami saw poor shooting performances from Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, Andre Iguodala and Duncan Robinson but was propelled by good games from other rotation pieces like Goran Dragic. “The Dragon” finished with 13 points to go along with three assists.

While Nunn and Iguodala shot poorly, the team still got a combined 23 points out of the duo, with Iguodala sealing the game with a slam.

The best part about the team’s performance was the way in which it locked down the New Orleans offense, holding Brandon Ingram to just 17 points and the Pelicans to 39.8% from the floor and 25.6% from deep.

With the win, the Heat head into the All-Star break at .500, a mark that might look disappointing on paper but is a good sign, given the fact that the team has won seven of its last eight games. The break will give the team a chance to rest, something it desperately needs as it has rarely been at full health to begin the year.

The Miami Heat returns to action on Thursday, March 11, when it takes on the Orlando Magic at home with the game tipping at 8 p.m. Be sure to check back with Hot Hot Hoops for up-to-date coverage of the Heat!