NEW ORLEANS – The Heat is playing close games at a record pace lately.
But it desperately needs to find a way to start winning them if it’s to keep its playoff hopes viable.
Miami couldn’t survive a mammoth performance by All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who scored 45 points and helped the Pelicans deal the Heat a 124-123 overtime loss at the Smoothie King Center.
Jrue Holiday, who also played a major factor in the outcome with 29 points, put the Pelicans ahead for good with a 10-foot jumper with 7.3 seconds left.
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Dwyane Wade, who finished with 16 points and gave the Heat the lead twice in the final minute of overtime, missed a jumper with two seconds left and Josh Richardson’s put-back attempt as time expired also missed the mark.
The Heat (30-29) lost its third in a row and suffered its eighth defeat in its past nine games.
And again it was a nail-biter.
The Heat’s last 17 games have been decided by single-digits – the longest such streak in franchise history. Of the Heat’s last 24 games, 23 have been decided by nine points or less. The NBA record is 20 in a row played by the 1982-83 Indiana Pacers.
Luckily for Miami, the Pistons (28-30) failed to move closer to the Heat which still holds the eighth-seed in the Eastern Conference by 1½ games, thanks to a Celtics win over Detroit.
The Heat had no answer for Davis, who recorded his sixth 40-plus point game of the season.
Goran Dragic led the Heat with 30 points, eight assists and nine rebounds, and Hassan Whiteside finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds, but fouled out with 1:43 left in overtime.
The Heat opened the game attacking the paint and outscored the Pelicans 70-62 n that category, but that wasn’t as marked an advantage by the game’s conclusion as it was early on when Miami held a 20-point advantage.
The Heat also gave up 37 fast break points, which was far above its average scoring allowed in that category of 10.6 per game.