LeBron James and Dwyane Wade Restore Defense, Winning Ways Against New Orleans
They talked the talk Friday.
Saturday, they walked the walk. Even if it did take until the second quarter.
Miami said all the right things following Thursday’s drubbing by Eastern conference-leading New York. They talked about effort and focus with MVP LeBron James speaking candidly about their defense even admitting, "We're not very good right now as a team."
Against the Pelicans, err Hornets, they executed, pulling away in the fourth to win 106-90.
True, it was only New Orleans, owners of the worst record in the Western conference, but you can only play whichever team is next on your schedule.
Because the Hornets came into the game ranked fourth in three-point percentage as well as fielding the league's most prolific marksman from deep, Ryan Anderson, this was a good test for Miami's once-stingy defense.
Anderson canned four from long range, bringing his league-leading total up to 64 on the season.
The subject of many trade rumors for title contenders (as well as the Lakers) looking for a stretch-4, Anderson kept the pesky Hornets in contention for much of the game, scoring 24 points despite some early foul trouble.
Playing without top pick Anthony Davis for the 11th consecutive game, the Hornets were up 25-18 just 6:36 into the game, having already connected on three three-pointers, two by Anderson.
The quarter would end with New Orleans holding the slimmest of leads, 32-31.
A 24-4 Miami run in the second quarter capped by a vintage Dwyane Wade Euro-step finish would spur the Heat to a 17 point halftime advantage. But the Hornets would not go quietly, using a 14-4 run in the third to win the quarter, 25-22.
Miami was also able to get out and run, with LeBron James adding a few highlights to his career canon, including an elbow-high one-handed cram from Mario Chalmers and a 3/4-court touchdown pass from Wade he caught over his right shoulder and finished in mid-air.
The Hornets would eventually cut it to eight with 4:39 to play, but the Heat answered with an 11-0 run sparked by Shane Battier in his second game back after missing three with a knee injury.
Miami shot a season best 58 percent and got another good game from Wade's (26 points) corpse, who seems to be written off as finished every other game now.
The Heat host new-look Atlanta, coming off an impressive win in Memphis Saturday night, Monday in a Southeast division showdown.
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