Hassan Whiteside's double-double helps Heat beat shorthanded Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Miami Heat backup center Hassan Whiteside became a bit bashful when asked if the word "dominant" described how he felt on the court against the New Orleans Pelicans.
"I don't know, man. It felt like a really good game," Whiteside said.
Hitting 10 of his 11 shots, including a few mid-range jumpers, Whiteside scored 24 points to go with 14 rebounds and three blocked shots, and the Heat beat the injury-ravaged Pelicans 113-99 on Tuesday night.
"I got hot," the 7-foot Whiteside said. "I felt like they were kind of relaxed and I was getting a couple wide-open jumpers and I was trying to take advantage of them."
Dwyane Wade scored 25 points and Goran Dragic 21 for the Heat, who've won nine of 12 games to put themselves in position to grab a playoff seeding as high as third in the Eastern Conference.
Jrue Holiday scored 24 for New Orleans, but missed 16 of his 23 shots. His poor shooting against a Miami defense that ranks among top five in fewest average points allowed was part of a theme for New Orleans, which shot only 39.1 percent (34 of 87) for the game.
Luke Babbitt scored a season-high 23 points for the Pelicans, who trailed by double digits for much of the game before briefly getting as close as five points in the fourth quarter.
The Heat took the lead for good with a 17-2 run in the first quarter and led by 22 on Dragic's layup early in the third quarter. New Orleans didn't get within single digits again until Holiday's jumper with 6:52 to go made it 96-87, part of a 13-0, fourth-quarter run that injected a measure of tension into the final 6 minutes.
But Wade helped snap the run when he fed Whiteside in the paint for a layup as the center was fouled by Kendrick Perkins. Wade then floated in a shot over a crowd in the paint to make it 101-93. Wade and Whiteside both added mid-range jumpers that helped the Heat re-establish a comfortable lead.
"We were playing against a really great basketball team tonight," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "And when they needed to close out the game, they gave the ball to Dwyane Wade. He's done it for many years in this league."
The 34-year-old Wade looked rejuvenated as he took command early, scoring 15 in the first half.
With his back to the basket, he used a head and shoulder fake to his left before spinning right to blow past Holiday for an easy layup. Moments after one of Whiteside's blocks, the ball found Wade, who dribbled more than halfway down the court to convert a running scoop in between two defenders. Later, he broke up a pass and leaped over the sideline to tip the ball back toward himself and slap it to a teammate just before he landed out of bounds.
"What's great about the last couple games is the ball's been finding energy and Dwyane has been the energy," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's been creating his opportunities off of his energy."
Miami shot 54 percent (25 of 46) in the first half and opened up a 59-40 lead by halftime.
New Orleans' back court got off to a miserable start, with Holiday and Toney Douglas each making only two of their first 12 shots apiece, while reserve guard Tim Frazier, who'd scored a season-high 17 points two nights earlier, missed his first four shots. The Pelicans wound up shooting 31 percent (15 of 49) for the opening half.
Heat: Miami won its 18th road game, one more than all of last season. ... Miami improved to 19-1 this season when holding opponents under 40 percent shooting. ... The Heat has scored at least 100 points in 11 straight games. ... Whiteside increased his league-high block total for the season to 229.
Pelicans: Douglas finished with 14 points. ... Frazier finished 3 of 10 shooting but his 11 points gave him more than 10 points in each of the four games he has played since being acquired. ... Pelicans F Ryan Anderson, who is second on the club in scoring at 17 points per game, missed his second straight game with groin strains in both legs. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said it's not yet clear whether the club will shut down Anderson for the final dozen regular season games. ... Reserve guard Norris Cole, who was traded to New Orleans from Miami last season, missed his eighth straight game with back soreness.
Heat: At San Antonio on Wednesday night.
Pelicans: At Indiana on Thursday night.