NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry ensured that the highlight of CJ McCollum’s debut with the New Orleans Pelicans was the roar he received from the crowd during pregame introductions.
Adebayo had 29 points and 10 rebounds, Butler also scored 29 and Lowry contributed a triple-double as the Miami Heat beat the Pelicans 112-97 on Thursday night.
Lowry capped his 14-point, 11-assist and 11-rebound performance with a 3-pointer that stunted a Pelicans comeback bid in the game’s final minutes. Miami then pulled away for its fourth straight victory while snapping New Orleans’ four-game winning streak.
“He’s just one of those guys that makes offense click,” Adebayo said of Lowry. “He only took nine shots today but his fingerprints were all over the game. Nobody expected Kyle to have 11 rebounds. He really makes life easier for a lot of people.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra raved about the “many IQ nuances” that the 6-foot Lowry can bring to a game.
“That’s what you get with that kind of basketball savant. It was fully on display tonight,” Spoelstra said. “I just think that’s really incredible that a guy can get a triple-double at his size and get 11 rebounds against that great rebounding team. It just shows you that he’s all about making winning plays.”
McCollum, who was routinely swarmed by multiple Miami defenders when he received the ball, scored 15 in his first game for New Orleans. But he missed 15 of his 21 shots and was just 2 of 10 from 3-point range.
“They’re a good defensive team,” McCollum said. “They understand they have to take the ball out of certain players’ hands.”
Reserve guard Jose Alvarado, an undrafted rookie, had a team-high 17 points for New Orleans. Jonas Valanciunas and Devonte’ Graham each scored 16 for the Pelicans, while Brandon Ingram added 15.
Consecutive 3s by Alvarado and Graham pulled the Pelicans as close as 96-92. But Lowry’s 3, followed by Butler’s step-back jumper, gave the Heat breathing room. P.J. Tucker’s 3 made it 104-94 with 3:49 to go and the Pelicans didn’t threaten thereafter.
Ultimately, New Orleans was done in by 11-of-41 (26.8%) 3-point shooting, but the Heat’s defensive play was a factor.
“You just got to show bodies, you got to contest every shot. I think we did that,” Butler said. “But we’ve been playing some great basketball as of late and we just need to continue to do that.”
McCollum’s night went well early. He had 10 first-half points, hitting twice from deep, during a tight first half which concluded with the Heat ahead 56-55.
“Considering the circumstances, I like the way we played,” said McCollum, who arrived in New Orleans after midnight Wednesday and was playing for his new team before he’d been in the city a full day. “I like the energy and effort.”
Miami didn’t take its first double-digit lead until Max Strus’ corner 3 capped a 7-0 run that made it 76-65 late in the third quarter.
Heat: Tyler Herro missed his second straight game with right knee soreness. … Adebayo has scored at least 20 in three straight and four of five. … Dewayne Dedmon scored 11 points. … Lowry’s triple-double was his second this season. … Miami made 10 of 32 3s (31.23 %), below its 37.8% average for the season coming in. … Made 24 of 28 free throws and outscored New Orleans 50-34 in the paint.
Pelicans: Basketball operations chief David Griffin said forward Larry Nance Jr., acquired Tuesday from Portland along with McCollum and Tony Snell, is scheduled for surgery Friday to repair the meniscus on his right knee. Griffin says the procedure is likely to sideline Nance six weeks. … New Orleans’ 17 turnovers led to 22 Miami points.
Griffin said star power forward Zion Williamson’s rehabilitation from his offseason right foot fracture “continues to progress well, anecdotally.”
Williamson left the team more than a month ago to continue his rehabilitation in Portland, Oregon, where he was visited last weekend by Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon, Griffin said.
Langdon “was really encouraged” with Williamson’s progress, Griffin said, adding that Williamson could have more imaging done in about a week to see how the bone has healed.
However, Griffin could not project whether Williamson would return this season.
“We’re building this in such a way that we’re going to be sustainable and the fit is going to be very good, whether he comes back now or in the future,” Griffin said. “We’re in a situation where we can build in a positive way. But speaking about his situation and where it is, I can’t get into much detail about that.”
Heat: Host Brooklyn on Saturday night to open a two-game homestand.
Pelicans: Host San Antonio on Saturday night in the third of six straight home games.
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