The Pelicans trailed 27-8 not nine minutes into the game. They had committed five turnovers, leading to 10 Miami points. CJ McCollum began 0-5 from the field while Bam Adebayo had scored as many points as the entire New Orleans team.
Things failed to improve from there.
The Pelicans fell 124-98 because the Heat played a much cleaner, more inspired game from start to finish.
“Give Miami a ton of credit,” Willie Green said. “They played an excellent overall game. They came in and kicked our butts on our home floor.
“All of that starts with me. I have to have our team prepared to play and that’s what I told our guys. We were not ready to play tonight. I get it. Long road trip. First game home. All of that stuff. But we can’t use that as an excuse.”
Miami’s pick-and-roll decimated the New Orleans defense early, but they also checked off most effort categories.
Kyle Lowry had as many first-half offensive rebounds as the Pelicans combined. Miami crushed New Orleans 16-3 in points off turnovers and 13-4 in fast break points. The Pelicans registered one steal in the first 24 minutes — only once this season had they not had at least two first-half swipes.
New Orleans came out of halftime with a burst of energy, cutting a 19-point deficit to 14, but that would be as close as things would get. At the start of the fourth, the Heat’s lead was 23 and it only proceeded to grow.
It’s said that teams often suffer from mental and physical fatigue after a long trip. It’s difficult to give this theory much credence after the Pelicans received a day off yesterday though. Regardless, whatever the reason for the great disparity between the two teams, let’s hope we don’t see a repeat performance from the Pelicans anytime soon. This team had built up a solid reputation of showing up prior to tonight.
CJ McCollum finished with 21 points and five 3s, Jonas Valanciunas posted another double-double with 18 and 10, and Naji Marshall had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
One thing that caught my eye was Dyson Daniels. While his effort and defensive abilities are always present, his offensive confidence continues to erode.
He seemingly doesn’t push the ball as effectively following boards, attack the lane with the dribble as often or make as many smart decisions. His five turnovers stood out because many showed a lack of attention to detail. Usually his passes never get deflected. They were tonight.
All rookies go through peaks and valleys, but it was nice to watch Willie Green do a lot of one-on-one coaching with Dyson from the sidelines. It was obvious from his mannerisms that he was trying to guide him to be more effective when facing similar situations in the future.
Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 26 points and Jimmy Butler added 18. Max Strus and Gabe Vincent scored 16 points apiece off Miami’s bench.
The 26-point loss marked New Orleans’ largest defeat of the season. They had previously lost by 21 points to the Grizzlies and Jazz.
Up next, the Pelicans will travel to the state of Florida's for two games, facing the Orlando Magic on Friday and then this same Heat squad on Sunday afternoon.
New Orleans is in a bit of a tailspin, having lost seven of their last 10 games. Now would be a really good time for Brandon Ingram to return, right?