Preseason postgame wrap: Heat 140, Pelicans 128

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

Heat (2-3), Pelicans (0-4)

MIAMI – New Orleans and Miami could’ve staged a pretty entertaining 3-on-3 game Wednesday featuring players who were not on the floor, with Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore sitting out for the Pelicans, joining Heat DNPs Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. Even with those well-known players sidelined, Miami rolled to a prolific offensive performance, topping 100 points with four-plus minutes remaining in the third quarter.

New Orleans’ problems with turnovers in preseason continued, as the visitors coughed up 20-plus for a second straight game. Every member of a reconfigured starting lineup committed at least two turnovers. The Pelicans will have a final preseason tuneup Thursday, when they host Toronto in a back-to-back at the Smoothie King Center.

IT WAS OVER WHEN…

Miami took advantage of a New Orleans miscue on an inbound pass, sinking a jumper at the third-quarter buzzer that made the margin 115-92.

PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME

After sitting out Friday’s game in New York, Julius Randle returned to game action and played 30 of a possible 36 minutes during the first three quarters. Randle was impressive in numerous categories, finishing with 23 points, six rebounds, four assists and a block of a Bam Adebayo alley-oop dunk attempt. Randle often overpowered Miami defenders under the basket, en route to going 6/10 from the floor and making 12 trips to the foul line. Darius Miller (17 points, 5/6 three-point shooting) and Elfrid Payton (17 points, eight assists) were other bright spots.

POSITIONAL FOCUS: SMALL FORWARD

A position that has changed hands within the starting lineup numerous times this decade, small forward was supposed to be manned by Solomon Hill in 2017-18, but Hill’s severe hamstring injury and subsequent extended absence forced New Orleans to improvise. Moore wound up filling the role capably last season, making a total of 80 starts and holding up well defensively despite at 6-4 giving up height in matchups on a nightly basis. Early in ’18 preseason it appears that the plan remains having the often-unheralded Moore start at the “three” spot, where he provides needed shooting and floor spacing on a team whose starting guards have not been feared three-point gunners. Depth-wise, the Pelicans have a chance to be in their best shape in recent years, with Miller shooting the ball very well in preseason and Hill back at 100 percent. Of course, New Orleans also has the flexibility to try big lineups that feature Nikola Mirotic at small forward, joined by Davis and Randle. The Pelicans haven’t had a chance to see that group yet in preseason, however, as a result of injury and rest DNPs for all three frontcourt players.

BY THE NUMBERS

106-78: Miami advantage in shot attempts from the field, a result in big edges in rebounding and turnovers.

39: Heat points off of the Pelicans’ 23 turnovers, one of the bigger capitalizations on miscues you’ll ever see in an NBA game.

16/33: New Orleans three-point shooting, one positive after the Pelicans had shot poorly in the previous three preseason games.