With a repertoire of strong internal movements and accurate mid-range shots, Butler took 10 of 14 shots and eight of nine free throws to help the heat keep the pelicans at bay. Butler added a late regression 3 to give him 10 points during an 11-2 run that put Miami to 98-87 at 2:50.
“You can see we trust him, we want him to have the ball in those moments and he always comes through,” said Heat Guard Goran Dragic said. “It’s really great to watch what he can do. He can manipulate the game, reach the free-throw line and fire shots. ”
Kelly Olynyk hit his first four 3-point shots, ending with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
“He shot aggressively and that’s exactly what you want from your shooters,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “He’s a great shot. It really creates a certain distance for us. ”
Dragic scored nine of his 13 points for Miami in the second half.
“The majority of our 3-series looked pretty good, which we didn’t,” said Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy. “The boys played well and we just had problems getting the ball into the basket.”
Hart, usually a reserve, was put on the grid after Williamson was scratched with a toe injury.
The Pelicans struggled to get shots in the first three quarters and Miami built up to a 17 lead, but the heat couldn’t get New Orleans out of the way in the second half.
When Hart took a shot halfway when the horn sounded to signal the end of the third period, the heat’s lead was only 77-70.
Alexander-Walker then pulled the Pelicans on 77-73 with a 3 to open the fourth quarter, which was largely competitive until Butler began to hold its ground more in the final five minutes.
Butler said at the time his mentality was, “Just win at any cost, make a few stops, score a few buckets, and keep making the right games.”
heat:: Andre Iguodala scored 10 points highlighted by a belated dunk that practically sealed the win. … Heat trainer Spoelstra is now 16-17 against Pelicans trainer Stan Van Gundy, his longtime friend and mentor. … This is the fourth time in the last seven seasons that the heat on the All-Star break has not exceeded .500. But during Spoelstra’s 12-year tenure, Miami has won 62% of its games after the break. Only San Antonio and Houston have better records in the Spoelstra era after the break. … Miami shot 49.3% (36 out of 73) but missed 20 out of 30 3-point shots.
Pelicans: New Orleans was not only without Williamson, but also without JJ Redickwho was bothered by a sore right heel. … The pelicans shot only 39.8% (33 of 83) and missed 33 of 43 3-point shots. … Beginner Kira Lewis Jr. scored 11 points in 17 minutes off the bench. … Lonzo Ball scored 10 but missed nine of 11 shots from depth.
Van Gundy said Williamson’s toe injury was nothing new, it was something he played through until he finally sat against Miami.
“I just know that he was hurt. I know he’s had it for a while. I know it got worse, ”said Van Gundy. “As for his closeness to gaming or anything else, I have no real clue.”
It remains unclear whether the injury will affect Williamson’s availability for Sunday’s All-Star game, for which Williamson was selected as the reserve. He was selected to play for the Durant team.
heat: Host Orlando on March 11th.
Pelicans: Hosts Minnesota on March 11th.