The Rundown: Heat, Pelicans score crucial wins

Published April 2, 2023, 2:00 PMPolo Bustamante

Jimmy Butler and the Heat turned back the Mavericks, while the Pelicans held off the Clippers.


Heat 129, Mavericks 122

Pelicans 122, Clippers 114

What went down

Out in the West, the bottom of the standings is one big jumble. No one knows how the fifth to 12th spots will look like at the end of the regular season. That’s why every win and loss matters.

Two West teams in those spots faced off today. The LA Clippers came into today’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans as the fifth seed in the West. The Pelicans, on the other hand, were entrenched tied for seventh with a 39-38 record. 

The Clippers looked like the better team to start the game against the Pelicans. Even without Paul George and Eric Gordon, they were able to get key contributions from the healthy players on their roster to take an early double-digit lead. 

The importance of this game was not lost on the Pelicans though. In the second quarter, they started to play with more urgency. Led by Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, they systematically cut down LA’s lead and turned the game into a tight, back-and-forth affair. Eventually, the Clippers just ran out of gas. The Pelicans pulled away in the fourth period after going on a run that was started by back-to-back Ingram baskets. 

New Orleans pulled off the huge win that gave them solo seventh and a half game lead over the LA Lakers. That win also put them within half a game of the Clippers who dropped to sixth place with the loss. The Pelicans are tantalizingly close to an outright playoff spot in the West.

Big-time baller

Normally, a 42-10-8 near-triple-double for Luka Doncic would be enough to earn him Big-time Baller status for the day. Unfortunately for him, the Dallas Mavericks lost yet another game, putting them even further away from playoff contention.

The true Big-time Baller for today was Doncic’s opponent Jimmy Butler, who carried the Miami Heat to a big win. Playing without Bam Adebayo, Butler did everything to power the Heat to the win. He scored 35 points on 75 percent shooting and dished out 12 dimes.

The Heat snapped a three-game losing streak and are now just 1.5 games away from the sixth seed in the East.

What he said

It’s hard to argue with Coach Willie Green. Ingram is averaging more than 30 points on 53 percent shooting in their last eight games. During that stretch, the Pelicans have only lost one game.

Did you see that?

LaMarcus Aldridge, one of the most prolific big men in his prime, has called it a career. He ended his NBA run as a seven-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA player, with career averages of 19.1 points and 8.1 rebounds. Aldridge was known as a midrange master who operated on the left block to get buckets.