By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Miami Heat backup center Hassan Whiteside became a bit bashful when asked if the word "dominant" described how he felt on the court against the New Orleans Pelicans.
"I don’t know, man. It felt like a really good game," Whiteside said.
Hitting 10 of his 11 shots, including a few mid-range jumpers, Whiteside scored 24 points to go with 14 rebounds and three blocked shots, and the Heat beat the injury-ravaged Pelicans 113-99 on Tuesday night.
"I got hot," the 7-foot Whiteside said. "I felt like they were kind of relaxed and I was getting a couple wide-open jumpers and I was trying to take advantage of them."
Dwyane Wade scored 25 points and Goran Dragic 21 for the Heat, who’ve won nine of 12 games to put themselves in position to grab a playoff seeding as high as third in the Eastern Conference.
Jrue Holiday scored 24 for New Orleans, but missed 16 of his 23 shots. His poor shooting against a Miami defense that ranks among top five in fewest average points allowed was part of a theme for New Orleans, which shot only 39.1 percent (34 of 87) for the game.
Luke Babbitt scored a season-high 23 points for the Pelicans, who trailed by double digits for much of the game before briefly getting as close as five points in the fourth quarter.
The Heat took the lead for good with a 17-2 run in the first quarter and led by 22 on Dragic’s layup early in the third quarter. New Orleans didn’t get within single digits again until Holiday’s jumper with 6:52 to go made it 96-87, part of a 13-0, fourth-quarter run that injected a measure of tension into the final 6 minutes.
But Wade helped snap the run when he fed Whiteside in the paint for a layup as the center was fouled by Kendrick Perkins. Wade then floated in a shot over a crowd in the paint to make it 101-93. Wade and Whiteside both added mid-range jumpers that helped the Heat re-establish a comfortable lead.
"We were playing against a really great basketball team tonight," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "And when they needed to close out the game, they gave the ball to Dwyane Wade. He’s done it for many years in this league."
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