The New Orleans Pelicans look to earn a split of a four-game road trip when they conclude the excursion with a contest against the Miami Heat on Saturday. Standout center DeMarcus Cousins had a strong outing while leading the Pelicans to a 111-97 win over the Orlando Magic on Friday after the club opened the trip with losses to the Denver Nuggets and Washington Wizards.
Cousins had 26 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in the victory over the Magic as New Orleans also ended a dubious streak of allowing 100 or more points in 12 consecutive games. “We’re on the right path, but we’re still learning each other, still finding our way,” Cousins said afterward. “With some consistency, we can become a top team.” Miami has won six of its past eight contests and recorded a 113-101 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday in the opener of a four-game homestand. Backup shooting guard Wayne Ellington drained a career-best eight 3-pointers while matching his personal high of 28 points as the Heat shot 63.9 percent from the field and went 16-of-25 from 3-point range.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, FSN Sun (Miami)
ABOUT THE PELICANS (16-16): Guard Jrue Holiday (24 points) and power forward Anthony Davis (20 points, 11 rebounds) also had 20-point outings against Orlando as the trio combined for 70 points on 29-of-45 shooting. Ending the 100-point streak and committing only 15 turnovers were crucial elements as New Orleans got back to the .500 mark. “I thought we did a good job with the turnovers, which didn’t compromise our defense very much at all,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters. “And then I thought we did a good job of moving the basketball and finding open people, and I liked the pace that we played at. and I thought our shot selection was really good.”
ABOUT THE HEAT (17-15): Starting shooting guard Dion Waiters (sprained ankle; X-rays were negative) departed in the first quarter, opening up increased playing time for Ellington, who made 10-of-16 from the field while reaching 20 points for the fifth time this season. “I really enjoy watching Wayne, I enjoy watching his routine,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward. “He has one of the best workout shooting routines I’ve ever been around in 23 years. It doesn’t guarantee he is going to have performances like this, but I think those are the championship habits we’ve seen.” Forward Josh Richardson (24 points on 11-of-14 shooting) and guard Tyler Johnson (19 on 8-of-12) also had stellar performances for a team missing center Hassan Whiteside (knee), point guard Goran Dragic (elbow) as well as forwards James Johnson (ankle) and Justise Winslow (knee).
1. The Heat have won 12 of 17 home meetings with the Pelicans.
2. Holiday is averaging 25.1 points over the past nine games and has six efforts of 20 or more during the stretch.
3. Miami C Kelly Olynyk scored just 11 points against Dallas two nights after erupting for a career-best 32 against this former team (the Boston Celtics).
PREDICTION: Heat 107, Pelicans 103