The game started off poorly for the Miami Heat. The effort wasn’t there and the New Orleans Pelicans were the more aggressive team. They picked Miami’s defense apart and converted on wide-open three-pointers. At one point, the Pelicans led by 15 points in the first half. After that, Miami picked up their intensity and got back into the game. The Heat continued to build their lead and closed the game. With the win, Miami moves to 10-5 for the season. Here are four takeaways from Wednesday’s victory over New Orleans.
Miami was forced to remove P.J. Tucker from the game after he picked up two quick fouls. They were also being killed from three-point range as the Pelicans shot 5-of-7 from downtown. New Orleans jumped out to a quick 17-6 lead that forced a Heat timeout. Miami had to burn another timeout later in the period as the Pelicans jumped to a 15-point lead. The defense and effort wasn’t as sharp as it has been throughout the season. The Pelicans were able to get to their spots easily and find the open shooter. While Miami’s defense primarily focuses on protecting the paint, they didn’t do a good job of rotating out quickly to the shooter.
Jimmy Butler Does it All
After missing the past three games, Butler was back with the team. With Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo out, Butler had a heavier load to carry. With his teammates struggling to get going, Butler took control of the scoring to keep Miami in the game. Butler had the midrange game going and baited the Pelicans into fouling him. He had 21 points by the end of the first half. From there, his teammates picked up the scoring in the second half. This allowed Butler to be more of a distributor. Once the game was over, Butler ended the night with a triple-double. It’s like Butler never left. He finished the night with 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Herro Comes Alive in the Second Half
The start of the game for Tyler Herro wasn’t great. He struggled to get into any offensive rhythm. His shots were falling short and he kept turning the ball over. There were two consecutive possessions where the ball was stripped from Herro’s hands. Midway through the second quarter, Herro was 0-for-6 from the field. But then he got going in the second half. Herro’s shots were in rhythm and he was able to maneuver to his spots with ease. This game was very important for Herro’s development. We were able to see how he was able to fare in adversity. With his game struggling early, Herro kept his confidence throughout the game. And it paid off. Herro finished the night with 19 points and five assists.
Haslem Receives Minutes
At first, the Heat went with KZ Okpala as the backup center. It didn’t work out. But then, the Heat made the switch to Udonis Haslem at the end of the first half. Unlike Okpala, Haslem knew where to be on the floor and the team absolutely trusts him. Haslem gave the team impactful minutes on Wednesday night. He blocked a slam dunk attempt at the rim that got the crowd going and drew his usual charges. It’s clear that Haslem is the best choice when Miami is down on centers. Haslem ended the night with two points, three rebounds, and one block in seven minutes.
Next up: The Washington Wizards. The game tips off at 7:30 pm EST.
Follow Jacari McRae on Twitter @JMcRae23
Main Image designed by Jeremy Guerin @jeremycguerin