The Miami Heat really can’t help the fact that they’re 4-2 in the preseason following a 98-92 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
LeBron James and Chris Bosh took their seats at the end of the third quarter, each playing less than 29 minutes, allowing the Heat reserves to hold onto a 16-point lead long enough to stave a Bobcats comeback that whittled Miami’s lead down to two near the end. The Bobcats were flashing key pieces of their starting lineup by game’s end, while the Heat were mainly featuring the on-the-hedge players just looking to make the team.
Not even point guard’s Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions each going off for 24 points could save the Bobcats from falling to 1-5. The problem was Gerald Henderson was the only other player scoring in double-figures. Only three out of the 13 players Charlotte played went over double-digits. The team only shot 37 percent, paling in comparison to Miami’s 52 percent.
Somehow, the lineup of Garrett Temple, Terrel Harris, Rodney Carney, James Jones and Josh Harrellson were able to seal the deal, hitting enough shots down the stretch to keep the Heat above .500 in the meaningless preseason–an ideal that every championship-bound team should strive for.
Following a poor performance against San Antonio, Chris Bosh proved resilient with 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Brendan Haywood, Tyrus Thomas and Bismack Biyombo were all given opportunities to defend Bosh, but all failed in containing the dual-threat who was hitting jumpers and playing aggressive in 25 minutes worth of action.
LeBron couldn’t say the same finishing with ten points and converting only 2-of-8 from the field. Although, it’s safe to say that James hot-dogging tour trudged on into Charlotte. LeBron mainly relied on hitting jumpers, but still finished with the play of the game–a dunk down the lane from one of Chris Bosh’s five assists.
Ray Allen had one of his better games of the preseason. The recently acquired sharpshooter finished with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists, also converting two of his five three-point attempts. He looked scarily comfortable catching-and-shooting–converting 6-of-9 from the field–and once again showed off his diverse repertoire that features him being another ball-handler.
Allen and the rest of the Heat combined to make 11 three-pointers. Leading the way was Shane Battier, who continued his streak of excellent shooting with 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. There were a number of instances where Battier and Allen were along the perimeter in the same lineup and showcased excellent chemistry in their ability to swing the ball to the open man.
It seems that the veteran savvy of these two are going to end up playing a positive role in the Heat’s eventual championship run.
Rashard Lewis continued his hot shooting from his performance against San Antonio and went 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.
However, it’s not the veterans that are taking the headlines in the preseason, it’s the hedge players. Specifically, the developing narrative between who is gunning for a guard spot between Terrel Harris and Garrett Temple. Harris was believed to have a large chance of re-signing going into training camp, but Temple has consistently performed and has proven to be more of a combo-guard than Terrel has.
They both had their moments tonight. Harris started in place of Dwyane Wade and showcased some of that athleticism the Heat coaching staff has raved about. In 22 minutes, he finished with 12 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and no turnovers.
However, Harris missed all three of his three-point attempts. Temple? The regularly below-average shooter hit 2-of-4 from beyond the arc, to accompany four rebounds, two assists, one block and three turnovers. He played 27 minutes off the bench and has been getting extended play running the point. The team’s usual starter in Norris Cole only played 21.
The Heat gave both players an opportunity to prove their worth tonight; Harris starting and Temple playing more minutes than anyone on the team not named LeBron James. It’s doubtful the Heat go without signing a center, especially with how dreadful Dexter Pittman (team low -13 in+/- rating) was tonight, so it’s going to come down to one of the two remaining guards to take a spot.
They have two more chances; a game against Washington Wednesday and the final preseason game against New Orleans on Friday.
That’s right. Basketball season begins in a week.