MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The New Orleans Pelicans have looked a lot like a playoff contender the last two games instead of the last-place club that struggled through the first eight weeks of the season. The Pelicans will try to prove the latest improvements are no fluke in front of a national audience when they visit the Miami Heat on Friday.
New Orleans seemed to find another low in a 104-88 loss at Phoenix on Dec. 18 that dropped the team to 7-19. The Pelicans, who shot 36.6 percent from the field in that loss, turned things around as Anthony Davis fought off an illness in a 130-125 win at Denver on Sunday and put it together on both ends in Wednesday's 115-89 home triumph over the Portland Trail Blazers. Davis will get a challenge on the inside from the Heat frontcourt of Hassan Whiteside and Chris Bosh, who are combining to average 30.4 points and 18.8 rebounds. Whiteside grabbed 16 boards and blocked four shots on Tuesday but could not keep the team from squandering an 18-point lead in a 93-92 loss to Detroit.
ABOUT THE PELICANS (9-19): Davis, Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday have all battled nagging injuries at times this season, and all three went over 20 points as New Orleans shot 56.4 percent in the win at Denver. The three nearly reached the mark again on Wednesday, but Holiday was held to just 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting in 21 minutes off the bench. Davis recorded 28 points and Evans narrowly missed a triple-double with 24 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, and the trio will try to guide the Pelicans to their second three-game winning streak on Friday.
ABOUT THE HEAT (16-11): The loss to the Pistons dropped Miami to 1-2 on its four-game homestand, but the team still feels like it's moving in the right direction. "It's competitive and it's disappointing to lose those games at the end," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after Tuesday's setback. "We'll just regroup and learn from it and just keep on plugging away. You know, this is the way this season's been, though, for a lot of teams this year and you just have to forge ahead until you get your breakthrough." Bosh scored 20 points in the loss and has reached that plateau in five of the last seven contests.
- Holiday (leg) has played in five straight games and is averaging 17.6 points in that span.
- Heat PG Goran Dragic (wrist) sat out Tuesday and is day-to-day.
- New Orleans took both meetings last season, including a 105-91 triumph at Miami on Feb.27.
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