Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Heat - February 27, 2015
Two teams who've experienced an action-packed month of February – in both good ways and bad – meet Friday night in the Smoothie King Center, when the New Orleans Pelicans host the Miami Heat. The matchup will be broadcast nationally by ESPN, though it isn't necessarily what the network anticipated when it chose to televise this contest back in August 2014.
New Orleans, which is making its lone home appearance on either ESPN, TNT or ABC of the 2014-15 regular season, won't have marquee attraction Anthony Davis, who was sidelined Feb. 21 by a shoulder injury. Also missing from the Pelicans' lineup are Ryan Anderson (elbow) and Jrue Holiday (leg). Despite Davis and Anderson being injured during the first half of a Feb. 21 game at Miami, the Pelicans prevailed handily by a 105-91 margin. Eric Gordon's three-point shooting was instrumental in the road victory, as he drained six of his 11 attempts. Gordon posted a game-best 24 points, while center Omer Asik added 15. Norris Cole (12 points) sparked a New Orleans bench that tallied 42 points.
Meanwhile, Miami will be without All-Star power forward Chris Bosh for the remainder of the season, after it was recently discovered that Bosh has blood clots in his lungs. He is expected to make a full recovery in 2015-16, but his current absence dealt a severe blow to the Heat's chances of making a deep playoff run in the Eastern Conference. On Feb. 19, Miami improved its starting lineup by trading for point guard Goran Dragic, who had been disgruntled in Phoenix. Dragic made his Heat debut against the Pelicans last week, but had a rough go, finishing with just 12 points and one assist. He was 4-for-11 from the floor and 3-for-6 on foul shots.
Intriguing matchup: Center, Omer Asik vs. Hassan Whiteside
Both players were factors in the paint during the Feb. 21 Pelicans win, with Asik finishing plays at the rim (6-for-9 shooting) and grabbing nine rebounds. Whiteside, who seemingly came out of nowhere to develop into a tremendous individual success story this season, notched 11 points and 16 rebounds.