Miami guard Tyler Herro was trying to throw an alley oop 50 feet from the basket Wednesday, but the pass was completely uncatchable. No problem. Instead of finding Heat teammate Jimmy Butler for a two-point dunk, Herro instead was rewarded with three points when his errant dish somehow went in the basket. Herro’s fortuitous “mistake” helped Miami go on a big third-quarter surge, turning a halftime deficit vs. New Orleans into a double-digit lead.
After the game, New Orleans starting forward Josh Hart discussed the Pelicans’ recent inability to maintain their level of play over the course of 48 minutes.
“We’re a young team and we’re not there fully yet when it comes to execution,” Hart said. “And having that attention to detail, we have to get better at it. So when (opponents) start to get physical, or start going on runs, we slow down. When we slow down, we get into the offense with less than 14 seconds on the shot clock. We have to keep our pace up.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Amid an extended second-half offensive drought by New Orleans, Herro drained a left-side three-pointer, giving Miami a 95-77 edge with six-plus minutes remaining. The Heat trailed 52-47 at the half, but outscored their guests 34-18 in the third period to go up 81-70. That marked a complete reversal from the Pelicans winning the opening quarter by a 34-21 margin.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Hart has been checking a lot of different boxes lately, handing out a career-high 11 assists vs. Memphis during the team’s most recent win, as well as doing his usual rebounding work and adding offense here and there. Hart’s aggressiveness Wednesday led to him converting layups and getting to the foul line, where he shot 6/8, en route to scoring 18 points.
BY THE NUMBERS
6: New Orleans made three-pointers in the first quarter. Against a scrambling Miami defense, starting guards Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Devonte’ Graham combined to sink five treys in the period, forcing the Heat to rethink their coverages.
4: New Orleans made three-pointers in the final three quarters.
REVISITING FANDUEL KEYS TO THE GAME
ATTACK THE PAINT
After a hot shooting start from the perimeter, attacking the basket was the only possible path to success for the New Orleans offense. The Pelicans followed up a season-high 34 free throws Monday at Washington with 28 in South Florida.
There was no opportunity to change their recent fortunes in crunch time, because the Pelicans couldn’t keep the Heat within striking distance in the fourth quarter.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Third-year guards Alexander-Walker and Herro produced very similar shooting games, putting up points but not necessarily in efficient fashion. Alexander-Walker shot 8/18 and scored 11 of his 24 points in the fourth, while Herro shot 7/19.
Several West teams are in the midst of an impressive hot streak – namely Phoenix, Golden State and the Clippers – but according to a Twitter poll, no recently-warming team has been more surprising than Oklahoma City (52 percent of ballots), which entered Wednesday having won four of its previous six games. Among those victories was last Wednesday’s triumph in New Orleans. The Thunder aren’t expected to compete for much this season beyond draft lottery combinations, so when they go on a four-game winning streak, it raises plenty of eyebrows.