NBA: Jimmy Butler's return sparks Heat's win over Pelicans

Field Level Media, Reuters

Posted at Mar 05 2021 03:08 PM

NBA: Jimmy Butler's return sparks Heat's win over Pelicans 1
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) drives to the basket while defended by New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) in the first quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Chuck Cook, USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Jimmy Butler returned from a two-game absence to score 29 points as the visiting Miami Heat defeated the Zion Williamson-less New Orleans Pelicans, 103-93, on Thursday night.

Butler, who had been sidelined by right knee inflammation, scored 10 points during the final six minutes as the Heat held off a Pelicans comeback.

Kelly Olynyk added 18 points and 10 rebounds, Kendrick Nunn and Goran Dragic scored 13 each and Andre Iguodala had 10 for Miami, which completed a season sweep against New Orleans.

Williamson, who has been selected to make his first All-Star Game appearance Sunday, did not play because of a toe injury.

Brandon Ingram scored 17 points, Steven Adams added 15, Nickeil Alexander-Walker netted 13, Josh Hart had 12, Kira Lewis Jr. 11 and Lonzo Ball 10 to lead the Pelicans.

Eric Bledsoe and Ball each made a 3-pointer as the Pelicans cut the Heat's 10-point halftime lead in half less than three minutes into the third quarter.

Butler scored four points and had an assist as Miami scored the next six points to take a 66-55 lead midway through the quarter.

Ingram ended the streak when he converted a three-point play.

Hart beat the buzzer with a 45-foot 3-pointer that cut the Heat's lead to 77-70 at the end of the quarter.

Alexander-Walker made two 3-pointers and a jumper to pull the Pelicans within 87-85 midway through the fourth, but Butler answered with consecutive baskets.

Butler added a three-point play and a 3-pointer to push Miami's lead to 98-87 with 2:50 left.

Olynyk scored 10 quick points as the Heat took a 15-7 lead 4 1/2 minutes into the game.

He hit a 3-pointer and his steal and assist produced a layup by Tyler Herro that gave Miami a 31-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Olynyk finished the quarter with 13 points, making all five of his shots, including three 3-pointers.

The Heat held a 17-point second-quarter lead before New Orleans started chipping away. Bledsoe and Ball each made a 3-pointer down the stretch as the Pelicans cut the deficit to 55-45 at halftime.