Miami led by as many as 31
MIAMI (AP) — A new look on the court and some really old looks on the sidelines were exactly what the Miami Heat needed.
Finally, they won at home.
Josh Richardson scored 20 points, Dwyane Wade added 18 and the Heat wasted most of a 31-point lead before hanging on to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 106-101 on Friday night. Miami had the massive lead by the midpoint of the second quarter, then saw the margin cut to three in the final moments before surviving and snapping a six-game home losing streak.
“We can walk out of here with a different feeling,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
It started with a different look.
Miami’s black “Vice” uniforms, whose unveiling coincided with the start of the home slide, were ditched in a decision that was made shortly before game time. The Heat donned red uniforms instead, calling it “an organizational decision.”
Plus, as part of the recent NBA tributes to late broadcaster Craig Sager and his unique sense of fashion, Spoelstra and his assistants wore their outlandish best. Spoelstra wore a blue and white plaid coat — a nod to both Sager and Dr. Jack Ramsay — while assistant Dan Craig went with a leathery look and Juwan Howard wore sneakers that loosely resembled the sort of colorful jackets Sager made famous.
“Let’s talk about our head coach: I thought he looked great,” said Wade, the Heat expert on fashion. “I thought it was great that coach always preaches to players to get out of their comfort zone, and tonight he had to get out of his comfort zone. It was amazing.”
Anthony Davis finished with 41 points for the Pelicans, who got 21 from Jrue Holiday and 15 from Nikola Mirotic. New Orleans has never rallied from more than 23 down to win a game, but made this one far more interesting than Miami wanted.
“When you get yourself down 30 and start mounting a comeback, you have to have a perfect storm,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “And it just doesn’t exist. It’s really disappointing because we competed like crazy from the second quarter on.”
The Heat led by 20 after one quarter — their biggest lead at home through 12 minutes since Jan. 30, 2007. The lead was 52-21 early in the second, and by then Richardson had 14 points, Wade had 11 and the Pelicans had missed all 11 of their 3-point attempts. Richardson’s 3-pointer with 2:56 left in the half pushed Miami’s lead to 59-28.
And then things got interesting.
New Orleans needed only 97 seconds for a 12-0 run that cut the deficit to 19, and the Pelicans went into the locker room down 61-41. Davis then scored the Pelicans’ first 11 points of the second half with a jumper, two 3-pointer and three free throws after getting fouled on a 3 to get his team within 65-52.
The Pelicans kept charging, but Miami never surrendered the lead.
“We know what we have to do,” Davis said. “We know we have to come out better instead of playing uphill.”
Pelicans: E’Twaun Moore left with 1:34 left with what appeared to be a left knee injury, and was unable to put any weight on that leg as he was helped to the locker room. … New Orleans is 9-2 at home, yet only 2-10 on the road. … Davis now has three 40-point games this season.
Heat: This is a stretch where Miami plays nine of 10 games against Western Conference teams. … It was Miami’s 390th consecutive home sellout, tying Phoenix (1990-99) for the seventh-longest in NBA history. … Hassan Whiteside had 12 points for Miami, but didn’t play in the fourth.
The Heat are up to 62 games missed by eight players with injuries — Goran Dragic (right knee) remains out, Tyler Johnson (right hamstring) sat again, Dion Waiters (ankle surgery) hasn’t played this season and Derrick Jones Jr. is now out with a right hamstring strain.
The largest halftime deficit ever overcome in Pelicans’ history was 19 — they were the New Orleans Hornets then — at Memphis on Jan. 30, 2010. When trailing by 20 or more at the half, New Orleans is now 0-38.
Pelicans: Visit Charlotte on Sunday.
Heat: Host Utah on Sunday.
By Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.