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Spoelstra stays perfect on Christmas, Heat beat Pels 111-98

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe (5) dribbles against Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 25, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

MIAMI – Erik Spoelstra remained perfect on Christmas, and a record-tying show from Duncan Robinson helped him stay that way.

Robinson made seven 3-pointers — tying the Christmas single-game mark — and scored 23 points, helping the Heat beat the New Orleans Pelicans 111-98 to start the NBA’s holiday quintupleheader Friday.

“It's super special to play in Christmas," Robinson said. “I certainly don't take it for granted."

Goran Dragic scored 18 points, Bam Adebayo had 17 and Avery Bradley finished with 12 for Miami, and Spoelstra improved his Christmas record as Heat coach to 8-0.

“I wasn't even aware of that," Spoelstra said. “Just shows you that we've had some really good teams here and teams that have had the opportunity to play on Christmas."

Precious Achiuwa and Tyler Herro each scored 11 for Miami, which lost Jimmy Butler at halftime with right ankle stiffness.

Zion Williamson had 32 points and 14 rebounds in 38 minutes for New Orleans — the rebounds and minutes both being career highs. Brandon Ingram finished with 28 points.

But the Pelicans shot 40% to Miami’s 51%.

“We made some defensive mistakes that we shouldn't have," said Josh Hart, who scored 12 for New Orleans. “Lack of communication. We've got to communicate better on the defensive end."

Robinson’s seven 3s tied the Christmas mark Ingram set last year.

“The guy is a great, great shooter. He's going to have nights like that," Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “But at least three of them were ones where we could have done a better job."

JJ Redick’s 3-pointer with 7:43 left cut Miami’s lead to 91-85 and came during a stretch when the Heat went five minutes without a field goal. But the Pelicans got no closer.

The Heat restored order by scoring 11 of the game’s next 13 points, and when Achiuwa — the rookie who had strong defensive minutes — forced Williamson into a turnover with 3:55 left, the entire Miami bench rose in celebration.

“We knew they would make a run, but we stayed composed," Dragic said.

New Orleans led 17-9 midway through the opening quarter — and got outscored 52-21 by Miami over the next 13½ minutes, with the Heat hitting nine of their 13 first-half 3s in that span on the way to a 23-point lead.

The Pelicans chipped away, getting within 66-53 at the half and 88-79 after three. But New Orleans shot only 30% in the final quarter and Ingram went scoreless in those 12 minutes after playing the entire third period.

Van Gundy lamented playing Ingram so much in the third.

“Probably not optimal play-calling on my part, either," Van Gundy said.

TIP-INS

Pelicans: Williamson's previous career high was 34 minutes. ... Redick fouled out for the second time in 898 career regular-season games, and missed six of his seven shots. ... The Pelicans are now 1-3 on Christmas.

Heat: Andre Iguodala started the second half for Butler. ... Miami improved to 11-2 on Christmas. It hadn’t played on the holiday since beating New Orleans in 2015, and hasn’t lost on Dec. 25 since 2007.

SEASON’S GREETINGS

Heat forward Moe Harkless this week helped pay rent for about 50 New York families in dire economic circumstances this holiday season, plus covered lost wages and other essential expenses. “Means the world to me,” Harkless said.

COMING HOME

Veteran ref John Goble was crew chief and got to be home for Christmas; he’s a Miami native. Marc Davis (lives in Chicago, crew chief Friday in Milwaukee) and John Goble (lives in Connecticut, crew chief Friday in Boston) also got to work near home for Christmas.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: Host San Antonio on Sunday.

Heat: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday.

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