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MIAMI — — Erik Spoelstra remained perfect on Christmas, and a record-tying show from Cheap Duncan Robinson Jersey helped him stay that way.

Robinson made seven 3-pointers — tying the Christmas single-game mark — and scored 23 points, helping the Heat beat the New Orleans Pelicans 111-98 to start the NBA’s holiday quintupleheader Friday.

“It’s super special to play in Christmas,” Robinson said. “I certainly don’t take it for granted.”

Cheap Goran Dragic Jersey scored 18 points, Cheap Bam Adebayo Jersey had 17 and Cheap Avery Bradley Jersey finished with 12 for Miami, and Spoelstra improved his Christmas record as Heat coach to 8-0.

“I wasn’t even aware of that,” Spoelstra said. “Just shows you that we’ve had some really good teams here and teams that have had the opportunity to play on Christmas.”

Cheap Precious Achiuwa Jersey and Cheap Tyler Herro Jersey each scored 11 for Miami, which lost Cheap Jimmy Butler Jersey at halftime with right ankle stiffness.

Zion Williamson had 32 points and 14 rebounds in 38 minutes for New Orleans — the rebounds and minutes both being career highs. Brandon Ingram finished with 28 points.

But the Pelicans shot 40% to Miami’s 51%.

“We made some defensive mistakes that we shouldn’t have,” said Josh Hart, who scored 12 for New Orleans. “Lack of communication. We’ve got to communicate better on the defensive end.”

Robinson’s seven 3s tied the Christmas mark Ingram set last year.

“The guy is a great, great shooter. He’s going to have nights like that,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “But at least three of them were ones where we could have done a better job.”

JJ Redick’s 3-pointer with 7:43 left cut Miami’s lead to 91-85 and came during a stretch when the Heat went five minutes without a field goal. But the Pelicans got no closer.

The Heat restored order by scoring 11 of the game’s next 13 points, and when Achiuwa — the rookie who had strong defensive minutes — forced Williamson into a turnover with 3:55 left, the entire Miami bench rose in celebration.

“We knew they would make a run, but we stayed composed,” Dragic said.

New Orleans led 17-9 midway through the opening quarter — and got outscored 52-21 by Miami over the next 13½ minutes, with the Heat hitting nine of their 13 first-half 3s in that span on the way to a 23-point lead.

The Pelicans chipped away, getting within 66-53 at the half and 88-79 after three. But New Orleans shot only 30% in the final quarter and Ingram went scoreless in those 12 minutes after playing the entire third period.

Van Gundy lamented playing Ingram so much in the third.

“Probably not optimal play-calling on my part, either,” Van Gundy said.

TIP-INS

Pelicans: Williamson’s previous career high was 34 minutes. … Redick fouled out for the second time in 898 career regular-season games, and missed six of his seven shots. … The Pelicans are now 1/3 on Christmas.

Heat: Cheap Andre Iguodala Jersey started the second half for Butler. … Miami improved to 11-2 on Christmas. It hadn’t played on the holiday since beating New Orleans in 2015, and hasn’t lost on Dec. 25 since 2007.

SEASON’S GREETINGS

Heat forward Moe Harkless this week helped pay rent for about 50 New York families in dire economic circumstances this holiday season, plus covered lost wages and other essential expenses. “Means the world to me,” Harkless said.

COMING HOME

Veteran ref John Goble was crew chief and got to be home for Christmas; he’s a Miami native. Marc Davis (lives in Chicago, crew chief Friday in Milwaukee) and John Goble (lives in Connecticut, crew chief Friday in Boston) also got to work near home for Christmas.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: Host San Antonio on Sunday.

Heat: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday.

——

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The abbreviated offseason amid the COVID-19 pandemic did not include a summer league or allow for weeks of workouts in the Miami Heat’s player development program. Instead, big man Cheap Precious Achiuwa Jersey began his rookie season just five weeks after the NBA Draft.

Achiuwa, 21, only had two weeks of team practices and two preseason games to prepare for his first regular-season NBA game.

But Achiuwa, who was selected with the 20th overall pick in last month’s draft, is apparently a fast learner because he already looks comfortable in his role off the Heat’s bench, averaging 9.5 points on 72.7 percent shooting, three rebounds and one assist in 16.6 minutes in the first two games of the season. Miami has outscored opponents by 10 points in the 33 minutes Achiuwa has played.

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“He has really improved just in the two weeks that we’ve worked with him,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, with the Heat back at practice Sunday in preparation for Tuesday’s home matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks. “We all can’t imagine how much further he’d be if he had a normal summer league and full summer player development program and September prep. He’s a quick study and he’s very diligent and committed to the work and studying film and getting with the coaches. He picks up things very quickly. That’s probably a skill onto itself.”

What exactly is Achiuwa’s role? It’s similar to the one Heat All-Star center Cheap Bam Adebayo Jersey had as a rookie in the 2017-18 season, when he averaged 6.9 points on 51.2 percent shooting, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 19.8 minutes per game.

Achiuwa’s (6-8, 225) role is to provide energy off of Miami’s bench on both ends of the court. He helps the offense as a solid screener and will score most of his points as an athletic roll man, off offensive rebounds or in transition, and Achiuwa is already a big part of the Heat’s defensive scheme when he’s on the court because of his ability to defend multiple positions.

“I’m here to play winning basketball,” said Achiuwa, who finished Friday’s Christmas Day win over the New Orleans Pelicans with 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and one block in 19 minutes. “Whatever it takes to win games, that’s what I’m down to do. Whatever is asked of me by the coaching staff, that’s what I’m willing to do, 100 percent. That’s what I’m doing. They’ve asked me to do the stuff that I’m doing, and I’m doing it to the best of my abilities.”

Achiuwa has been effective in his role to start the season, with each of his eight made baskets coming from inside the restricted area. He has yet to attempt a shot from outside the paint, as three of his eight makes have came on rolls to the basket and one has come on a second-chance opportunity off an offensive rebound.

Five of Achiuwa’s eight baskets have come on assists from veteran guard Cheap Goran Dragic Jersey, and three of Dragic’s assists have come on pick-and-roll sets with Achiuwa diving to the rim.

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“One of the first times I walked into the facility, he was one of the first guys that said something to me,” Achiuwa said of Dragic. “I think the first thing he actually said was, ‘Hey, I need to work out with you.’ That was the first thing he said the first time he saw me. He was like, ‘We need to work on that pick and roll lob.’ That was the first conversation he ever had with me.

“On the practice court, his seat is right next to mine so we’re always in constant communication. He’s always telling me what to do, angles, reads, stuff like that, just positioning. I really, really appreciate him a lot just because his voice is constantly in my ear.”

Achiuwa’s impressive defensive versatility was on display late in Friday’s win over the Pelicans, as he served as 6-11 center Steven Adams’ primary defender for a few minutes in the fourth quarter and then switched onto 6-6 forward Zion Williamson later in the period.

It’s a very small sample size, but the Heat has posted a quality defensive rating of 97.2 with Achiuwa on the court to begin the season. To put that number into perspective, the Bucks finished last season with the NBA’s top defensive rating at 102.5 points allowed per 100 possessions.

“He’s like a sponge,” Heat center Cheap Meyers Leonard Jersey said of Achiuwa. “He’s very attentive. He wants to be better. He wants to be that versatile player who can guard like Bam, switch pick and rolls, roll to the rim on the offensive end and play above the rim with a guy like Goran and the rest of our guards. So I think that if he keeps it simple, he’s going to be just fine.”

For now, it seems like Achiuwa has earned himself a consistent role in the Heat’s rotation as a rookie. How? In large part because he knows his role.

And it helps to be playing as part of a second unit that includes experienced veterans like Cheap Andre Iguodala Jersey, Cheap Avery Bradley Jersey and Dragic. The four-man combination of Achiuwa, Bradley, Dragic and Iguodala was a plus-9 in the 11 minutes they played together Friday.

“It’s a great luxury, particularly with that unit, that he can lean on the veteran experience of Goran, Avery, Andre, who are super-high IQ players on both ends of the court,” Spoelstra said. “And they communicate. And they can talk him into spots, and tell him where to go, what to do, and where he can just play to his strengths right now.”

JIMMY BUTLER INJURY UPDATE
Spoelstra said after Sunday’s practice that there’s no new update on Heat All-Star wing Cheap Jimmy Butler Jersey injured ankle. After playing 16 first-half minutes, Butler missed the second half of Friday’s win over the Pelicans because of right ankle stiffness.

“I don’t have an update today,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll just continue to get him treatment, and then we’ll put together a plan.”

The Heat will practice again Monday before hosting the Bucks on Tuesday as part of a two-game back-to-back “series” against Milwaukee that ends with another matchup between the two teams on Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Butler’s status for those game has yet to be determined, with more clarity expected Monday when the Heat is required by the NBA to issue a 5:30 p.m. injury report.

Butler tweaked his right ankle during Wednesday’s season-opening loss to the Orlando Magic.

“Each situation is different,” Spoelstra said when asked whether the Heat will take a cautious approach with Butler. “Each player and each injury, and you want to treat it with most intelligent response. I thought that was a no-brainer the other night. And then we’ll just see how his body responds with these days of treatment.”

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When the Miami Heat turned to smaller ball last season, they turned at power forward to Cheap Jae Crowder Jersey, all 235 pounds of him. He fought the good, undersized fight all the way to the NBA Finals.

With Crowder lost to the Phoenix Suns in free agency, the initial ensuing approach by coach Erik Spoelstra was to go down even further in weight class, opening with 210-pound Moe Harkless alongside Bam Adebayo in the power rotation in Monday’s preseason opener.

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As in a player listed by the Heat as 20 pounds lighter than Jimmy Butler, five pounds lighter than Cheap Duncan Robinson Jersey.

According to Basketball Reference’s positional breakdowns, Harkless played 9 percent of his minutes last season at power forward, 57 percent at small forward and 34 percent at shooting guard. Over his career, only 19 percent of his minutes have come at the four.

To Spoelstra, a position is an arcane designation amid his position-less approach. Unless, of course, you’re the one designated to initially defend Zion Williamson in your Heat preseason debut.

To Harkless, who joined the Heat in free agency last month, it is a challenge he willingly accepts, but one that requires acclimatization.

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“It’s different,” the 27-year-old said. “Honestly, throughout my career, even when I played the four . . . we’d kind of switch up the matchup a little bit. But I have no problem. It’s going to be a challenge to consistently guard guys giving up weight, but it’s a challenge that I’m up for.

“I have my advantages when it comes to length and speed, so I just use those advantages. Like [Monday], obviously I was giving up weight, but I was using my feet, using my arms and using my length to make things hard for him. Make it hard for him to catch the ball. That’s something that I continue to work on. That’s what they’re asking me to do, so it’s just something that I got to be good at.”

Typically, when players get a sense of their positional assignments, they adjust their training. There were times Cheap Justise Winslow Jersey attempted to get bigger when playing in the frontcourt, other times when he worked on agility when anticipating time in the backcourt. But with the quick turnaround between seasons, there barely was time for Harkless to look himself in the mirror, let alone re-sculpt.

Whether that means continuing to develop their young core and getting them to reach an even higher level or acquiring a second superstar (Cheap Bam Adebayo Jersey is an elite big man but he’s not quite on that level… yet) remains to be seen, but the latter is certainly a possibility, especially for a team that operates as the Heat have in the past, making win-now moves when they have presented themselves.

Plus, with a major Miami target Giannis Antetokounmpo, who the Heat kept cap flexibility this offseason to make a run at next summer, deciding to extend with the Milwaukee Bucks, Pat Riley and Co. could be even more focused on pivoting to find another superstar as soon as possible.

Harden could wind up being that guy.

Of course, trading for Harden won’t come cheap for whichever team does pull off the major acquisition, and Miami is no different.

So what kind of trade package could the Heat put together for the 31-year-old?

For starters, Miami would need to put together roughly $33.0 million in salaries for a Harden trade to be legal.

That would mean a Miami trade package for Harden would have to include Cheap Kelly Olynyk Jersey (making $13.6 million this season) and Andre Iguodala ($15.0 million), whose combined salaries add up to $28.6 million.

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Harkless, who is listed at 6 feet 7, said that nine seasons into his career, he believes he is what he is from a physique standpoint.

“I think you’ve got to be comfortable in your own skin,” he said. “I’m not going to change who I am. I’ve tried to put on weight before, but a lot of times it just doesn’t work, and I don’t really feel comfortable playing too heavy. I find where I’m comfortable at and I do that.

[Most Read Heat Coverage] Heat’s Cheap Goran Dragic Jersey expects to play against Raptors, but it won’t be ‘anywhere close to a full dress rehearsal’ »
“I don’t think I lack strength. I feel like I’m pretty strong, especially for somebody my size. So I just go in confidently with that.”

Though Monday’s debut that had him up against both Williamson and foul trouble, Harkless sees better days ahead once Cheap Jimmy Butler Jersey, Goran Dragic and Cheap Andre Iguodala Jersey are added to the mix. Those three were held out of Monday’s preseason opener, but are expected to play Friday when the Heat close out their two-game exhibition schedule, against the Toronto Raptors in Tampa.

“I think I fit pretty good,” Harkless said. “Obviously, we have to figure out how to make things work in harmony. But I think we’ll get there. I feel like we’re not far off from playing well. We didn’t have our whole team out there, either. I think I fit in really well still and I think as time goes on, it’s only going to be a better fit.”