Bam Adebayo scores 26 points, Heat beat Pelicans 124-98

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Bam Adebayo scored 26 points and the Miami Heat led comfortably from the first quarter on in a 124-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.

“We played great basketball for the entire game,” said Adebayo, who made 11 of 15 shots in about 30 minutes on the court.

“We’re always trying to get each other going and you love to have teammates like that,” Adebayo added. “I’m just getting to my spots. Guys want me to be assertive, want me to be aggressive.”

Jimmy Butler added 18 points and Gabe Vincent hit four 3-pointers as part of a 16-point night for the Heat. They never trailed and led for all but the first two minutes en route to their fourth victory in five games.

The Heat outscored New Orleans 64-48 in the paint and outrebounded the Pelicans 43-37, and that dominance inside had a lot to do with Adebayo’s play, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

“We ultimately want to get Bam involved as much as possible. We can’t get the ball to him enough,” Spoelstra said. “He’s great at getting all the way to the rim and he was doing that tonight.”

CJ McCollum scored 21 points for Pelicans. They’ve lost seven of 10 while playing much of that stretch without star power forward Zion Williamson.

Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which briefly trimmed a 19-point halftime deficit to 12 in the third quarter before Miami pulled away again.

“We didn’t show up with a level of urgency that it takes to play against good teams,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Tonight we didn’t have it. Normally, we do, but tonight, we didn’t.

“This is the time of the season where it’s sort of the dog days,” Green added. “You’ve got to do all the little things to get yourselves prepared to play.”

Miami guard Kyle Lowry returned from left knee soreness that had sidelined him four games. He played 22 minutes and finished with seven points, eight rebounds and four assists.

“It was good to get back,” Lowry said. “I feel pretty good right now and hopefully that won’t reoccur.”

Spoelstra said Lowry could have played more but there was no need to push him with the game in hand.

“His minutes, particularly in the first half, were really good,” Spoelstra said, noting an early steal by Lowry and his generally physical presence on defense.

Miami led by 20 in the first quarter when Vincent’s 3 made it 30-10. The Pelicans responded with a 10-2 run and briefly got as close as 33-23 on Naji Marshall’s driving layup as he was fouled, but Miami didn’t let it get tighter in the opening half.

Vincent’s 3 as the horn sounded to end the first quarter started a 12-2 run and Miami rebuilt its lead to 23 when Max Strus’ 3 made it 54-21.

“Offensively, Kyle, Jimmy, Tyler, Bam were all incredibly assertive right from start of the game and that’s kind of mentality we have to have,” Spoelstra said.

Miami reached the most points scored against New Orleans in a first half this season when Tyler Herro’s finger roll made it 70-46.

Alvarado’s banked 3 in the final seconds of the half pulled New Orleans to 70-51.

TIP-INS

Heat: Strus finished with 16 points and 10 assists. … Herro scored 14 points. … Caleb Martin and Orlando Robinson each scored 10 points. … Have won five straight meetings, three of those in New Orleans. … Shot 59.2% in the first half (29 of 49), before finishing at 53.2% (50 of 94). … Went 12 of 35 from 3-point range.

Pelicans: Pelicans coach Willie Green chose to use his challenge in the second quarter when Alvarado was called for a defensive foul on a drive by Caleb Martin, whose elbow struck the Pelicans guard in the face. Officials ruled that the elbow as a “natural act” and the blocking foul on Alvarado stood. … Herb Jones sat out with a lower back bruise. … Williamson missed his eighth straight game with a strained right hamstring. … Brandon Ingram missed his 26th straight game with a left large toe contusion.

QUOTABLE

Spoelstra grinned as he stated that Strus’ 10 assists were likely “his most at any level.”

Strus said that sounded about right.

“Man, I’ve never passed the ball that much in my life,” he said.

UP NEXT

Heat: At Dallas on Friday night.

Pelicans: At Orlando on Friday night.

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