Heat beat Pelicans despite injury to Jimmy Butler in Christmas opener

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson gets past Heat guard Tyler Herro for a layup during the second half on Dec. 25, 2020.
Pelicans forward Zion Williamson gets past Heat guard Tyler Herro for a layup during the second half of their game on Christmas. Miami won 111-98.
(Joel Auerbach / Associated Press)

MIAMI — Heat coach Erik Spoelstra remained perfect on Christmas, and a record-tying effort from Duncan Robinson helped him stay that way.

Robinson made seven three-pointers — tying the most on Christmas — and scored 23 points, and the Heat beat the New Orleans Pelicans 111-98 to start the NBA’s holiday quintupleheader Friday.

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


Spoelstra moved to 8-0 on Christmas as coach of the Heat.

Highlights from the Miami Heat’s victory over the New Orleans Pelicans

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

Goran Dragic scored 18 points, Bam Adebayo had 17 and Avery Bradley finished with 12. Precious Achiuwa and Tyler Herro each scored 11 for Miami.

Zion Williamson had 32 points and 14 rebounds for New Orleans, and Brandon Ingram finished with 28. But the Pelicans got outscored 48-30 from three-point range and shot only 40% to Miami’s 51%.

Josh Hart scored 12 for New Orleans.

“We made some defensive mistakes that we shouldn’t have,“ Hart said. “Lack of communication. We’ve got to communicate better on the defensive end.“


Robinson’s seven three-pointers tied the mark that Ingram set last year. Jimmy Butler didn’t play in the second half for Miami, ruled out with right ankle stiffness.

Bucks 138, Warriors 99

Highlights from the Milwaukee Bucks’ win over the Golden State Warriors.

MILWAUKEE — Khris Middleton scored 31 points, and host Milwaukee won its first Christmas Day home game in more than half a century.

Middleton made six of eight from three-point range, leading a strong performance from deep for his team. Milwaukee converted 20 of 37 from beyond the arc, while Golden State made only 10 of 45.

Middleton has totaled 58 points in his first two games of the season.

“The weeks before the season, I just tried to put in good work, work on my game,” Middleton said. “So far, it’s been working for me.”

The Warriors were outscored by 65 points in their first two games, the second-highest total in NBA history through two games to 71 points for the 1987-88 Clippers.


“The thing I was most disappointed in is we just had two good days of practice with our execution working on getting in our offense and making hard cuts and reads, and we did not execute much of anything,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “It was kind of scattered and disorganized. I’m disappointed in that. I’ve got to take the blame for that.”

Milwaukee’s only other Christmas home game came during the franchise’s inaugural season in 1968. The Bucks were on the road for Christmas the last two seasons, losing at Philadelphia in 2019 and winning at New York in 2018.

Stephen Curry scored 19 points for Golden State, and rookie James Wiseman had 18.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 15 points and 13 rebounds for Milwaukee, but the two-time reigning NBA most valuable player shot four for 15 from the field and seven for 15 from the foul line.

Nets 123, Celtics 95

Highlights from the Brooklyn Nets’ win over the Boston Celtics on Friday.

BOSTON — Kyrie Irving scored 37 points with eight assists in his return to Boston and Kevin Durant added 29 for Brooklyn in a victory over the Celtics.

Jarrett Allen added 11 rebounds for the Nets, who remained perfect so far this season and sent Boston to its first loss. Irving was seven for 10 from three-point range in his first regular-season game at TD Garden since he opted out of his Celtics contract in 2019.


“We’re going to continue to see them. We’re in the same division,” Irving said, adding that there was “nothing added” to his motivation in playing his former team.

Jaylen Brown scored 27 with eight rebounds for the Celtics, and Jayson Tatum had 20 points and eight boards. The Celtics beat Milwaukee in their opener Wednesday night on Tatum’s last-second shot over Giannis Antetokounmpo, but they couldn’t do it again in their second straight matchup against a team expected to contend in the Eastern Conference this season.

Basketball Hall of Famer K.C. Jones, a 12-time champion as a player, head coach and assistant with the Celtics and the Lakers, has died. He was 88.

Dec. 25, 2020

The game began after a moment of silence for former Celtics player and coach K.C. Jones, who died earlier Friday.

Boston led by three at the half before being outscored 35-23 in the third quarter, including a 9-0 run that turned a three-point edge into a 82-70 lead. It was 86-79 early in the fourth when the Nets, even with Irving and Durant on the bench, again scored nine in a row to open a 16-point lead.