Jimmy Butler returned from a two-game absence to score 29 points as the visiting Miami Heat defeated the Zion Williamson-less New Orleans Pelicans 103-93 on Thursday night.
Butler, who had been sidelined by right knee inflammation, scored 10 points during the final six minutes as the Heat held off a Pelicans comeback.
Kelly Olynyk added 18 points and 10 rebounds, Kendrick Nunn and Goran Dragic scored 13 each and Andre Iguodala had 10 for Miami, which completed a season sweep against New Orleans.
Williamson, who has been selected to make his first All-Star Game appearance Sunday, did not play because of a toe injury.
Brandon Ingram scored 17 points, Steven Adams added 15, Nickeil Alexander-Walker netted 13, Josh Hart had 12, Kira Lewis Jr. 11 and Lonzo Ball 10 to lead the Pelicans.
Eric Bledsoe and Ball each made a 3-pointer as the Pelicans cut the Heat’s 10-point halftime lead in half less than three minutes into the third quarter.
Butler scored four points and had an assist as Miami scored the next six points to take a 66-55 lead midway through the quarter.
Ingram ended the streak when he converted a three-point play.
Hart beat the buzzer with a 45-foot 3-pointer that cut the Heat’s lead to 77-70 at the end of the quarter.
Alexander-Walker made two 3-pointers and a jumper to pull the Pelicans within 87-85 midway through the fourth, but Butler answered with consecutive baskets.
Butler added a three-point play and a 3-pointer to push Miami’s lead to 98-87 with 2:50 left.
Olynyk scored 10 quick points as the Heat took a 15-7 lead 4 1/2 minutes into the game.
He hit a 3-pointer and his steal and assist produced a layup by Tyler Herro that gave Miami a 31-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Olynyk finished the quarter with 13 points, making all five of his shots, including three 3-pointers.
The Heat held a 17-point second-quarter lead before New Orleans started chipping away. Bledsoe and Ball each made a 3-pointer down the stretch as the Pelicans cut the deficit to 55-45 at halftime.
–Field Level Media