Sunday slop never tasted so good for the Miami Heat.
On an afternoon when the turnovers were bountiful and the 3-pointers weren’t, the Heat found a way Sunday to push past the New Orleans Pelicans 100-96 at Miami-Dade Arena.
“I’m still feeling it in my stomach,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of his, and the team’s, queasy afternoon.
With offense again largely a struggle, the Heat nonetheless bounced back from Friday night’s blowout road loss to the Dallas Mavericks for their second victory over the Pelicans in five days.
Whether it should have been this difficult, considering New Orleans remains without Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, is another story.
But the story in this one was the Heat getting enough from Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry to again reach their season high-water mark of four games above .500, this time at 26-22.
Herro led the Heat with 26 points, with Butler and Adebayo scoring 18 each and Lowry 17, his late play helping seal the win.
The Heat held on despite being unable to inbound late, surviving when New Orleans’ CJ McCollum was off on a 3-point attempt with 7.6 seconds to play.
The victory came despite the Heat committing 22 turnovers and shooting 8 of 34 on 3-pointers.
“Yes, it was taxing,” Spoelstra said, “when it feels like it’s mistake after mistake.”
Five Degrees of Heat from Sunday’s game:
1. Closing time: The Heat trailed 32-23 after the first quarter and 47-41 at halftime.
“We dug ourselves a hole the way we came out,” Herro said.
The Heat then pushed to a two-point lead in the third, before going into the fourth down 72-69.
Then, with 6:37 to play, a Herro 3-pointer gave the Heat their largest lead to that stage, at 81-78. From there, a 3-pointer from Lowry extended the Heat’s lead to 91-86 with 3:03 to play.
But even with Lowry following with two more Heat baskets, a pair of 3-pointers drew the Pelicans within 95-94 with 1:41 to play.
Later, it again was a one-point game when Herro missed a Heat 3-pointer on one end, with the Heat then saved by the Pelicans committing their 24th turnover.
That put Heat guard Victor Oladipo on the line with 15.1 seconds to play, only to make the second of the two foul shots for a 98-96 Heat.
After a New Orleans timeout, the Pelicans then were called for a five-seconds inbounding violation, their 25th turnover, giving the ball back to the Heat.
The Heat wound up with their own inbounding issue, winding up with a jump ball with 14 seconds to play.
The Pelicans won that tip, creating the Heat’s 22nd turnover and putting New Orleans back in possession, with McCollum then off on his 3-point attempt.
A pair of Oladipo free throws closed out the scoring.
Lowry scored nine in the fourth for the Heat.
“Kyle was a major part of that,” Spoelsrta said of the Heat being able to close. “He just kind of looked vintage.”
2. Turnover time: The Heat had eight turnovers in the first quarter, including six on Pelicans steals and were up to 14 by halftime. The Heat entered averaging 13.5 turnovers per game.
Those 14 first-half turnovers fueled 21 first-half Pelicans points, although it wasn’t necessarily a one-way street, with the Pelicans ending the first half with 12 turnovers.
The Heat got things slightly more under control in the second half, but the toll increased the challenge.
Herro closed with five turnovers, and Lowry and Oladipo with four apiece.
“We were able to find a way to win the game and calm down at the end,” Lowry said.
3. Daily doubles: After the Mavericks in Friday night’s rout of the Heat consistently sent double teams at Butler, the Pelicans took a similar approach from Sunday’s outset.
Butler became the last of the game’s 10 starters to register a shot attempt, with that coming with 3:02 to play in the first quarter on a transition dunk. He stood with five points on two shots at halftime.
Butler finally got going with six early points to start the second half, more aggressive and immediate in his attacks, closing the period with 11 points on 3-for-3 shooting.
“It was better than Dallas,” Spoelstra said. “We’re going to see this a lot more and we’re definitely going to have to get better at it.”
Butler closed 5 of 7 from the field and 8 of 10 from the line.
“He read that intuitively,” Spoelstra said of the adjustment to the double teams by Butler.
Said Lowry, “They’re not going to allow him to play.”
4. The three thing: The added attention on Butler has come at little cost to opposing defenses, this time with 2-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc in the first half, falling to 4 of 23 through three quarters.
Herro and Lowry were the only Heat players to convert 3-pointers through three quarters, with the Heat bench 0 for 7 at that stage.
Herro came around to close 4 of 10 on 3s, Lowry 3 of 6.
Spoelstra said it again was a case of the Heat not launching enough when 3-pointers were available.
“I think we passed up more than half a dozen,” Spoelstra said.
Lowry had another perspective.
“I think they moved the rim,” he said with a smile.
5. FTX is history: The Heat for the first time since the arena’s temporary name changed to Miami-Dade Arena played without the FTX logo on the court, with the two spots sanded clean where the logos stood.
Most traces of the name of the failed cryptocurrency exchange were gone in the Heat’s return from the weeklong trip, including a team logo covering where the FTX lettering had stood on the arena’s front marquee.
Employee uniforms still sported FTX embroidery.