The Miami Heat earned their first win of the 2020-21 season by defeating the New Orleans Pelicans, 111-98, to open the NBA's 2020 Christmas Day slate.
Sharpshooter Duncan Robinson led the way for Miami with a game-high 23 points while shooting 7-for-13 from deep. Robinson's seven 3s tied a Christmas record set by Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram in 2019. In this one, Ingram finished with 28 points while Zion Williamson led all scorers with 32 points and 14 rebounds.
For more on how it went down, here are some thoughts from the first game of the Christmas Day schedule...
1. Is Duncan Robinson the best shooter in the NBA?
That answer is probably no as long as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are in the league, but Robinson is right there.
Miami's sharpshooter got going early and often, shooting 4-for-5 from deep in the first quarter and adding two more triples in the second to make it an NBA-record six 3s in the first half of a Christmas Day game.
👌👌👌 DUNCAN ROBINSON 👌👌👌- NBA (@NBA) December 25, 2020
He's 6-8 from deep in the first half on ESPN! #NBAXmas pic.twitter.com/ZiK0jBgBlW
Robinson finished with a team-high 23 points, shooting 7-for-13 from deep, a mark that, as mentioned above, tied an NBA Christmas Day record.
2. The difference from deep
With Robinson setting the tone - and spacing the floor - Miami gained a major advantage from beyond the arc from early on.
In the first half alone, the Heat shot a red-hot 13-for-21 (61.9%) from deep while the Pelicans shot 5-for-15. This is especially impressive considering Miami hit just seven 3s total in its opening night loss to the Orlando Magic.
# of 👌's we hit in the 1st half:- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 25, 2020
Miami finished the night shooting 16-for-37 (43.2%) from deep while New Orleans shot just 10-for-35 (28.6%). That 18-point differential proved to be the difference.
3. An impressive Christmas debut for Zion
Were you expecting anything less?
In his first Christmas Day action, the 20-year-old made his presence felt by imposing his will, recording a double-double before the end of the third quarter. It was largely in part to plays like this one:
Back-to-back buckets where @Zionwilliamson just bullies everyone on the floor pic.twitter.com/AmD7JJ0AF1- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 25, 2020
Williamson coolly finished with a 32-point, 14-rebound double-double on 11-for-20 (55.0%) shooting from the field and 10-for-15 shooting from the charity stripe.
4. Injury sidelines Butler
Jimmy Butler, who got the start and saw 16 minutes of action in the first half, aggravated an injury and missed the entirety of the second half with right ankle stiffness.
#NOPvsMIA INJURY UPDATE: Jimmy Butler (right ankle stiffness) will not return to today's game vs the Pelicans.- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 25, 2020
With a three-day break until Miami's next game, Butler could be back on the floor next week.
5. Ingram still finds a way
Brandon Ingram finished the game shooting just 7-for-17 from the field but still found ways to fill it up.
He's such an impressive scorer.
B.I. taking over pic.twitter.com/t3V5xYjRQY- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 25, 2020
Last year's Most Improved Player finished with 28 points, shooting 4-for-8 from beyond the arc and getting to the line, where he shot 10-for-11 on the day. Ingram's continued ability to get to the free throw line will only add to his ability to be one of the league's best scorers.
6. Spoelstra remains flawless on Christmas record
Undefeated, never lost.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is now a perfect 8-0 in Christmas Day games while the Heat improved to an impressive 11-2 on the holiday.
7. Redick rewrites the record books
Speaking of records, in his 11th Christmas Day game, Pelicans guard J.J. Redick became the all-time leader in Christmas Day triples with a 3 in the fourth quarter.
With his last three-pointer, JJ Redick now has the most career triples in #NBAXmas history.- Pelicans PR (@PelicansPR) December 25, 2020
It was an otherwise forgettable game for Redick, who finished with eight points on 1-for-7 shooting from the field.
8. Miami's reserves step up
Behind 18 points from Goran Dragic, 12 from Avery Bradley and 11 from rookie Precious Achiuwa, the Heat's second unit outscored that of the Pelicans 47-21.
Josh Hart led New Orleans' reserves with 12 points while Redick struggled from the field to add eight.
9. What's next?
The Heat are back in action on Tuesday, Dec. 29 as they host the Milwaukee Bucks in a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Pelicans return to New Orleans where they host the San Antonio Spurs for their home opener.
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