The Miami Heat, who lost star Jimmy Butler due to injury in the first half, held on to defeat the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 111-98 on Friday afternoon.
New Orleans’ Zion Williamson, making his Christmas Day debut, produced his second double-double in two games this season with 32 points and 14 rebounds, both game highs. Brandon Ingram added 28 points.
Miami (1-1) was led by Duncan Robinson, who had 23 points and made 7 of 13 3-pointers. Bam Adebayo had 17 points, and Goran Dragic added 18 points and a game-high nine assists off the bench.
Butler, who had stiffness in his right ankle, had six rebounds, five assists and four points in 16 minutes. The Heat made it to the NBA Finals last season, but they were just 6-9 without Butler.
Miami also made a change in its starting lineup, benching Maurice Harkless and elevating Meyers Leonard, who scored nine points on 3-for-5 3-point shooting. Harkless did not score.
Avery Bradley, who won an NBA title last season with the Lakers, made his Heat debut and scored 12 points. Bradley, who signed as a free agent last month, also hounded New Orleans’ JJ Redick, holding him to eight points on 1-for-7 shooting.
Miami, which made just seven 3-pointers in its opener, had seven in the first quarter alone, taking a 29-26 lead.
New Orleans (1-1), which led by as many as eight points in that first quarter, gave up a 14-4 run and managed to stay in it by going 8-for-8 from the foul line.
Miami led by as many as 23 points in the second quarter, but New Orleans closed with a 15-5 run, cutting the Heat’s advantage to 66-53 at the break.
New Orleans cut its deficit to 88-79 after Ingram hit a 3-pointer as the final play of the third quarter. Through three quarters, however, Miami had doubled the number of New Orleans’ made triples (14-7).
The Pelicans got as close as six points with 7:43 left in the fourth quarter, but the Heat held on by shooting 50.7 percent from the floor for the game, including 16-of-37 from downtown (43.2 percent).
New Orleans was held to 39.7 percent shooting, including 10-for-35 on 3-pointers (28.6 percent).
–Field Level Media