Marking their first appearance playing together as a team on the main court of the AmericanAirlines Arena since hoisting their second championship trophy back in June, the Miami Heat entertained thousands of fans at the Red & White Scrimmage played on Wednesday October 3rd.
The game was surprisingly competitive with several players such as Rodney Carney, Terrel Harris and Jarvis Varnado fighting for what could potentially be an open roster spot or two (or none). Udonis Haslem could have cared less that it was an exhibition game and was openly arguing with the refs during a timeout, scrambling for a loose ball with Josh Harrellson, and pleading for an offensive foul to be called on LeBron James for pushing off Garrett Temple on a pull-up jumper. Chris Bosh led the team with 19 points, 7-10 FG, 2-3 on 3-point FGs, 3-4 FTs. LeBron contributed 15 points, 4-8 from the field, 1-1 3-point FG, 6-11 FTs.
"The guys were excited to be out there and the atmosphere was great," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And we're building, you can already see there's already some continuity offensively. We've been spending a great deal of our time working our defensive habits and making sure that that's the foundation and playing off of that."
With limited time so far to hash out the offensive system in training camp, the team as a whole attempted 42 three-pointers with mixed results. Mike Miller went 3-8, Shane Battier was the most successful with 4-7 shooting while Bosh continued to show some range with 2-3 and James converted his only attempt. Of the new guys, Allen finished 3-7 and Rashard Lewis was 0-5.
"I did like the pace," Spoelstra said. "Some of the missed shots were short, that's to be expected after a few days. But I liked the speed and tempo of the game and that's something we can build on. I liked the fact that the ball was moving. Clearly, the game will be a little bit different when we put in more offense and we post more."
Ray Allen quickly endeared himself to his new fans by knocking down his first shot, which of course was a three-pointer in which he launched his trademark quick release shot from the corner in front of the "Red" team bench, where Dwyane Wade elected to stay as he continues to recover from off-season surgery. (And no, he wasn't wearing Jordan sneakers, though he was wearing Nike.) Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony also sat out the game.
Allen showed off a few other moves besides his long range shooting, including a nice spin move while being guarded by Harris that gave the appearance he was already in game shape while showing no signs that his injury-plagued last half of the 2011-12 season was going to slow him down this year.
"He didn't even look fatigued," Spoelstra observed afterwards. "He didn't come out the first [quarter]. He played the first six minutes, I think, of the second. I looked out and said to make sure we sub for Ray so he's not going the whole four quarters."
About ten minutes later as Allen emerged from the locker room, he confirmed it.
"I did feel that way," when asked if he really didn't feel fatigued. "In those situations where you get in front of the crowd and then you start running, that's a position I've been in and I put my body to be in that type of shape for those situations. So I relish in those moments and it's always fun to be out there when the crowd is definitely there for you. You're playing basketball so it's hard not to want to be out there."
Midway through the second quarter, the crowd at the AAA focused in on two women wearing Boston Celtics jerseys, one of Allen and one of Rajon Rondo, and promptly booed them out of the arena only for them to return again about 15 minutes later to a chorus of more boos. The sight of Allen in Heat gear and playing in a friendly arena that used to boo him and his teammates must have been quite a new experience for the veteran but the sharpshooter has been unsurprisingly receiving good vibes here in South Florida since the switch.
"One thing I've gotten since I've been here the last couple months and people tell me, 'Man, I really hated you, but I liked you a little bit, but I really hated you,' " Allen said with a smile. "It's definitely good to be here on this side and see there's some great fans down here and despite me having been on another team the past couple of years, they still appreciated what I did on the floor so I feel that sense of gratitude and welcome from the fans."