It had all the makings of your typical Miami Heat game in January, until the Heat decided to do something different for a change in the second half.
The defense that comes-and-goes? That stayed a lot longer than usual. The New Orleans Pelicans were held to 37 second half points after ringing up 49 in the first. Anthony Davis could only turn the 16 points and 10 rebounds he collected in the first half into 22 points and 12 rebounds for the game.
With the defense putting the clamps on the Hornets and keeping them to only three three-pointers the entire night, the Heat were able to reverse a nine-point first half deficit into a 107-88 win.
Milliseconds before the half, the Pelicans’ Anthony Morrow unwisely fouled Chris Bosh on a three-pointer.
The Pelicans could have gone into the half holding a nine-point lead and feeling good about themselves, especially on the defensive end, where they ranked 26th in defensive efficiency heading in to tonight.
Instead, they rewarded Bosh with three free throws, all of which he made, and the Heat went into the half only down by six, despite an overall poor effort on both ends.
From the 8:44 mark of the third quarter to the 1:39 mark, the Heat turned a six-point deficit into a ten-point lead as New Orleans went without a point for nearly four minutes.
LeBron James scored eight of his 16 points in the third during this stretch that took any pep that was left out of the Pelicans’ step.
Miami also did themselves a favor by putting the game on ice early in the fourth. They made the first seven points of the fourth and used a 10-2 run within the first four minutes of the final frame to stretch their lead to 13.
Stat of the game:
12 offensive rebounds for the Pelicans.
Sounds bad, right? Especially when Anthony Davis had seven alone. But of those 12 offensive boards, 11 of them came in the first half, with Anthony Davis close to nonexistent on the offensive glass after destroying the Heat in the interior throughout the first half.
There was a far greater attention to detail when it came to boxing out in the final 24 minutes. Chris Bosh finished the night with nine rebounds and Dwyane Wade finished with eight, while Chris Andersen was active throughout with seven boards in his 23 minutes.
The Pelicans actually came into today ranking third in the league in offensive rebounds per game. The Heat held them below their usual average, while also grabbing two more offensive rebounds than they usually average.
LeBron James: 32 points on 13-of-22 shooting overall, 3-of-6 from three, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals; A-
LeBron started off the night with a 27-foot three-pointer and would hit three on the night after going the past two games without hitting one. He appeared much more confident in his shot and was feeling quite ambitious when he attempted a shot from the Heat logo about 35 feet away from the rim in transition.
He also did this:
Dwyane Wade: 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, 8 rebounds, 8 assists; A-
Dwyane had the look of the MVP candidate from 2009 what with the way he was splitting double-teams, getting to the paint and to the foul line in the fourth quarter. He made all three of his field goal attempts, scored ten points and dished out three assists in the final frame.
Chris Andersen: 15 points on 7-of-7 shooting, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block; A
It was Birdman at his best tonight, reminding everyone that it was once Joel Anthony filling his current role of shot-blocker and receiver of looks under the rim. He scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, his five makes all coming off of assists via his teammate’s penetration.
He also played a heavy role in the reduction of Anthony Davis’s influence in the second half.
The Heat now stand at 27-8, tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference with the Indiana Pacers, and have the chance to build on that with a visit to New York to play the 12-22 Knicks, winners of their past two.
It’s the first matchup of the season between the two.