For the last time this season, the Heat filled up the whole sideline.
With just days remaining before the regular season tips off, the Heat came to New Orleans with 20 players on the roster and used 11 of them in a 93-90 loss to the Pelicans in the Smoothie King Center on Friday night.
None were able to slow down Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, who achieved game highs with 25 points and 13 rebounds.
The Heat will have to trim its roster to 15 or fewer before opening the season on Wednesday in the AmericanAirlines Arena against the Charlotte Hornets, meaning John Lucas III, Keith Benson, Tre Kelley, Briante Weber and Greg Whittington likely suited up for Miami for the final time this season. None of them played on Friday.
Meanwhile, Heat starters Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Hasaan Whiteside each logged more than 25 minutes to say farewell to the preseason. The only other Heat player who could potentially be jettisoned from the team, James Ennis (whose contract becomes fully guaranteed if he makes the regular-season roster), played five minutes but left the game with a dislocated left ring finger and didn’t return.
“Whether these guys make the team or don’t, I hope they walk away with an experience, and it’s something they can build on and get them closer and closer to their dreams,” Wade said. “It’s a tough business, and I’m glad I’m a player and don’t have to make decisions like that.”
The Heat played without a pair of starters, as point guard Goran Dragic (sick) and forward Luol Deng (hip) didn’t participate.
“We’ve played a lot of games with our starters out, so our guys have gotten good reps,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game. “Anything else we get out of this preseason is just extra. I’ve been more concerned this week with our practice sessions and game film and shootarounds.”
One player who made the most of his final preseason appearance was reserve forward Gerald Green.
Not only did this summer’s free agent pickup score 16 points in his first 11 minutes on the floor — en route to a team-high 24 points — he delivered a pair of thunderous dunks (in the second and fourth quarter) that elicited audible gasps among the crowd.
Green entered the night averaging a team-high 16.9 points per game in the preseason.
But the chatter around Green entering Friday night centered around the NBA assessing him a $25,000 fine for “menacing gestures,” which included pantomiming guns and a throat slash in the Heat’s 110-105 win over Washington on Wednesday night.
“He accepts the responsibility of it, and we’ll have to move on,” Spoelstra said. “The league has a very clear stance on it, so he accepts it and we’ll go from here.”
By night’s end there wasn’t much concern about Green’s disciplining, after he lit up the Pelicans from just about every spot on the floor in the first half alone.
The Heat had a chance to shoot the game into overtime but Tyler Johnson missed a three-pointer from the corner as time expired, allowing New Orleans to preserve the win.
Miami led by as much as six in the fourth quarter before the Pelicans charged back behind Davis’ scoring.
Green scored 28 points off the bench to rally the Heat on Wednesday, making the gestures after draining a pair of three-pointers with 5:33 and 5:12 remaining in the game.
Green signed a one-year, $1.36 million deal with Miami over the summer. Essentially, the $25,000 fine is about one and a half games worth of pay for Green.
Miami Herald sportswriter Manny Navarro contributed to this report.
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