Pelicans can't keep up in loss to Heat
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Hassan Whiteside had 24 points, 14 and three blocked shots, and the Miami Heat beat the injury-ravaged New Orleans Pelicans 113-99 on Tuesday night.
Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic each scored 23 points for the Heat, who've won nine of 12 games to put Miami 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 shooting struggles against Miami's stout defense 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 a shot in 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.
Miami shot 54 percent (25 of 46) in the first half and opened up a 59-40 lead by halftime.
Wade had 15 of his points during the first two quarters and Amare Stoudemire had 10 early points before finishing with 16.
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 and never had a lead larger than two points -- the last coming at 18-16 in the first period.
Heat: Joe Johnson scored eight points to pull within three of tying Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich -- who played three seasons for the New Orleans Jazz -- for 49th in scoring in NBA history at 19,181 points. ... Miami won its 18th road game, one more than all of last season. ... The Heat swept both meetings, also winning 94-88 in overtime on Christmas Day. ... 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. ... Holiday has scored at least 20 points in 19 of his last 27 games. ... 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.