With LeBron James sitting out due to “general soreness”, Dwyane Wade mentally checking out by the start of the second half, and Chris Bosh seemingly missing the fact that he was in a game, it was up to the Miami Heat’s “little 12″ to get things done.
Against one of the NBA’s deepest teams in the San Antonio Spurs, the Heat reserves stepped up to lead the team to a 104-101 victory which featured a 27-16 advantage in the fourth quarter. Rashard Lewis led the way with 15 points off the bench, shooting 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Josh Harrellson came off the bench to record 10 points and five rebounds in 13 minutes, as well as hitting the dagger three-pointer in the final minute that turned a tie into a three-point lead.
Terrel Harris, who finished with nine points and three assists in 20 minutes, hit the final two points for the Heat on a strong layup that gave the team a comfortable lead. However, his time with the team may be waning on account of Garrett Temple having another solid outing, ending up with five points, six assists, four rebounds and only one turnover in 26 minutes.
Among those also surprising was Dexter Pittman. The center hasn’t been able to convince the coaching staff that he is worthy of time over the likes of Harrellson, but impressed today converting all four of his field-goal attempts on his way to eight points to go along with six rebounds and a block in 17 minutes.
Before this outing against San Antonio, Pittman wasn’t exactly getting in the good graces of the Heat organization. Although his contract was guaranteed and he obviously shed a ton of weight, the commitment he put in off the court wasn’t translating when he was actually on the court. He still dealt with foul trouble and his rebounding and defending were still put into heavy questioning.
Although he finished with four fouls in those 17 minutes he played, he still created an impact on both sides of the court with his size.
The two squads put on a clinic on how to play basketball the right way throughout the first half. Both teams constantly executed well, but it was the Heat walking away with a 62-57 edge after the first half. The second half paled in comparison as the Heat checked out early and the Spurs kept regular starting point guard Tony Parker out, electing to start Nando De Colo instead.
San Antonio took advantage with a 28-15 third quarter edge, but failed to find any way to score on defense or limit the offense of a Heat team that featured second and third-string players throughout the final 12 minutes. In the end, it was guys like Lewis, Harrellson, Temple, and Harris putting the finishing touches against a Spurs lineup that was still featuring a starter at the end of the game in shooting guard Danny Green, who finished with a game-high 17 points.
The Heat were supported by healthy three-point shooting, converting 13-of-27 from beyond the arc after struggling to shoot above 30 percent in their previous game against Detroit. Mike Miller led the way with 4-of-5 shooting from deep, while Lewis and Shane Battier each contributed three. Ray Allen struggled with his shot once again, but managed to drain one three-pointer off a Dwyane Wade post-up.
That’s something we’ll see a lot more once the regular season rolls around.
The most encouraging sign to come out of the Heat’s shooting performance was how well Miller has looked in the preseason. He is still showing obvious signs of fatigue if he plays for too long, but he is still showing that is perfectly well and capable of having games like the one he had in Game 5 against Oklahoma City. Today’s performance was reminiscent of that as Miller converted his first four attempts, all coming in the first half.
He played 19 minutes, having a great all-around game with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
The Heat shot 53 percent as a team from the field and 48 percent from beyond the arc. However, turnovers were a problem as Wade, Allen and Norris Cole each had four. The entire team as a whole finished with 26, which also included three apiece from Bosh, Harris, and Pittman.
Miami played without James, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, Mario Chalmers and Jarvis Varnado. James Jones and Robert Dozier received no playing time.
Miami travels to Charlotte for a 7:00pm outing against the Bobcats on Tuesday, before shipping out to Kansas City for a contest with the Washington Wizards the day after.