Butler ejected, but not before helping Heat top Pelicans 106-95

Fri, Feb 23, 2024
NBA News (AP)

Butler ejected, but not before helping Heat top Pelicans 106-95

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Jimmy Butler had 23 points and nine rebounds before being ejected after a fourth-quarter melee and the Miami Heat held off the New Orleans Pelicans 106-95 on Friday night before a hostile and emotionally charged crowd.

Bam Adebayo scored 24 points for Miami, which returned from its All-Star break by beating snapping the Pelicans' four-game winning streak in what also marked the Heat's seventh straight victory over the Pelicans.

Miami reserve Thomas Bryant, along with Pelicans players Jose Alvarado and Naji Marshall, also were ejected after the on-court melee with 11:19 to go. Even a couple fans were escorted out, one of them after throwing things at Heat players from one of the first few rows.

The scuffle began when Heat center Kevin Love grabbed Zion Williamson to prevent a layup after Williamson had stolen the ball from Butler in the back court. Williamson fell to the court after Love's foul.

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When play resumed, the Pelicans briefly surged in front when rookie Jordan Hawkins' 3 made it 91-89, but Heat reserve Haywood Highsmith quickly responded with a 3 that ignited a decisive 11-0 Miami run.

Duncan Robinson scored 17 points and Tyler Herro scored 15 for the Heat. Herro, however, appeared to hurt his left knee with 1:40 left and hobbled straight to the locker room after he was helped to his feet.

Zion Williamson had 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for New Orleans, which played a second straight night without high-scoring win Brandon Ingram (illness).

Herb Jones scored 19 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Pelicans, who were done in by 37.5% shooting (39 of 104) - 7 of 32 (21.9%) from 3-point range.

Miami, by contrast, shot 44.8% (13 of 29) from deep and 46.3% (38 of 82) overall. New Orleans outrebounded Miami 54-46 and outscored the Heat 58-46 in the paint, but that was not enough to overcome the shooting disparity in the game.

Butler scored 17 points in the first half and gave Miami a lead as large as 19 when he tipped in Jaime Jaquez Jr.'s jump hook to make it 43-24. When Herro hit his second 3 of the game, the Heat led 55-37 with less that six minutes to go in the half.

That's when the Pelicans suddenly locked down defensively and began a dramatic 21-3 run to close the second quarter. It started with Williamson's free throws, followed by his putback.

Trey Murphy III, having missed his first seven shots, hit a 3 to pull the Pelicans back to 57-47. Alvarado added another from deep, followed by a reverse scoop that he spun in off the glass. Valanciunas finished the remarkable, crowd-energizing surge with a layup set up by Williamson to tie it at 58 at halftime.


Heat: At Sacramento on Monday night.

Pelicans: Host Chicago on Sunday night.


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