Bam Adebayo scores 26 points, Heat beat Pelicans 124-98

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Bam Adebayo scored 26 points and the Miami Heat led comfortably from the first quarter on in a 124-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.

Jimmy Butler added 18 points and Gabe Vincent hit four 3-pointers as part of a 16-point night for the Heat. They never trailed and led for all but the first two minutes en route to their fourth victory in five games.

CJ McCollum scored 21 points for Pelicans. They've lost seven of 10 while playing much of that stretch without star power forward Zion Williamson.

Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which briefly trimmed a 19-point halftime deficit to 12 in the third quarter before Miami pulled away again.

Miami guard Kyle Lowry returned from left knee soreness that had sidelined him four games. He played 22 minutes and finished with seven points, eight rebounds and four assists.

The Heat outrebounded the Pelicans 43-37 and outscored New Orleans 64-48 in the paint.

Miami led by 20 in the first quarter when Vincent's 3 made it 30-10. The Pelicans responded with a 10-2 run and briefly got as close as 33-23 on Naji Marshall's driving layup as he was fouled, but Miami didn't let it get tighter in the opening half.

Vincent's 3 as the horn sounded to end the first quarter started a 12-2 run and Miami rebuilt its lead to 23 when Max Strus' 3 made it 54-21.

Miami reached the most points scored against New Orleans in a first half this season when Tyler Herro's finger roll made it 70-46.

Alvarado's banked 3 in the final seconds of the half pulled New Orleans to 70-51.

TIP-INS

Heat: Strus finished with 16 points and 10 assists. ... Herro scored 14 points. ... Caleb Martin and Orlando Robinson each scored 10 points. ... Have won five straight meetings, three of those in New Orleans. ... Shot 59.2% in the first half (29 of 49), before finishing at 53.2% (50 of 94). ... Went 12 of 35 from 3-point range. ... Got 49 points from reserves. ... Adebayo has scored at least 10 points in all 41 games this season and 57 straight dating to last season.

Pelicans: Pelicans coach Willie Green chose to use his challenge in the second quarter when Alvarado was called for a defensive foul on a drive by Caleb Martin, whose elbow struck the Pelicans guard in the face. Officials ruled that the elbow as a “natural act” and the blocking foul on Alvarado stood. ... Herb Jones sat out with a lower back bruise. ... Williamson missed his eighth straight game with a strained right hamstring. ... Brandon Ingram missed his 26th straight game with a left large toe contusion.

UP NEXT

Heat: At Dallas on Friday night.

Pelicans: At Orlando on Friday night.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Brett Martel, The Associated Press