At long last, the precursor to the much anticipated 2012-’13 campaign of the Miami Heat has commenced.
While the result didn’t end in a preferred result , the Heat still found plenty to smile about in their 92-79 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, specifically being how well Chris Bosh performed in his first healthy game since the early moments of Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers.
Bosh ended up leading all scorers with 22 points on 14 shots and needing only 23 minutes to do so. He also grabbed six rebounds, converted a three-pointer and got to the line for six free throws. Even more encouraging was the fact that Bosh was doing this as the Heat’s center and going against Hawk centers in Al Horford and Johan Petro.
He showed no lasting effects of the abdominal strain he suffered last June, as he found scores in a variety of ways from the perimeter and near the basket, including a stellar putback dunk he had over a few Hawk defenders.
Bosh’s effort was supported by LeBron James, who finished with ten points, six rebounds, six assists and one steal in 23 minutes, as well as 13-point effort from Norris Cole, who started in place of the injured Mario Chalmers. Cole played 32 minutes and broke out a new facet of his game in the form of a floater, but showed severe control problems as he ended up with five turnovers and needed 13 shots just to score 13 points.
James was in full preseason mode; not nearly giving as great an effort as we’ll see him give in the games that actually matter. And yet, LeBron still ended up with the highlights of the day, which includes three dunks–this high-flying jam on the fastbreak off a Ray Allen pass was the best by far.
LeBron led the early charge for Miami by rocketing out to an early 11-point lead in the first quarter with Shane Battier converting two early three-pointers to set the tone. However, the team’s focus waned and it led to Atlanta taking a two-point lead into the half. The Heat would struggle with their offense in the second half, but Bosh kept the margin respectable with an excellent third quarter where he scored 15 of his 22 points.
The Hawks were led by Josh Smith and his 21 points. Al Horford finished with eight points, six rebounds, four blocks and three assists in 20 minutes, while Louis Williams made his Atlanta Hawk debut with 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting off the bench.
DeShawn Stevenson made the most of his Hawk debut with 11 points and Damian James had six points and eight rebounds off the bench. Perhaps the most surprising numbers from a Hawk newcomer came from Anthony Morrow. The former Nets sharpshooter struggled mightily missing all five of field-goal attempts and putting up a goose egg in the scoring column, despite playing nearly 21 minutes.
As for the Heat, they should be pleased to see Ray Allen coming away with a strong preseason debut to the tune of ten points, five assists, three rebounds and three steals in 27 minutes. Allen attempted and missed his only three-point attempt. However, seeing him handle the ball so well should give the Heat coaching staff yet another dimension to work with on offense. Ray finished with the second most assists on the team, only behind LeBron’s six.
Fellow newcomer Rashard Lewis finished with five points on 2-of-5 shooting, two rebounds and three turnovers in 25 minutes. He converted his first three-pointer with the team, but still had trouble getting lift on his shots. However, he looked far more impressive than he did in the team’s scrimmage.
Perhaps the greatest surprise of the day came from Robert Dozier, a former draft pick of Miami’s who is taking part in his very first training camp and preseason with the team. In 21 minutes, the 6’9″ forward racked up four points, six rebounds, one block and one steal, while showing excellent aggression on the boards as well as great activity on the defensive end.
He’s a long-shot to make the final 15-man roster, but it still gives the Heat another player to keep an eye on in case the team’s bigs don’t perform as well as they’re expected to.
Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, Rodney Carney, Mickell Gladness, Jarvis Varnado, Udonis Haslem, James Jones and Garrett Temple all sat out.
The Heat will now be taking their talents to China, where they will play the Los Angeles Clippers on the 11th in Beijing and then again on the 14th in Shanghai. The entire team will travel.