Without Dwyane Wade, Quentin Richardson, Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Quinn in the lineup on Sunday night, the Heat youngsters decided it was time to step up. Sure, it was against a Spurs team who had just as many substantial guys missing as the Heat (no Duncan or Ginobili, and Jefferson only played 12 minutes), but it's nice to see something good coming from the guys who a lot is expected of this coming season.
Michael Beasley started at power forward for the 1st time this preseason and looked very comfortable. The best sign that I saw was that Beas wasn't afraid to drive with the ball. We all know that the kid can shoot, but he needs to add dimensions to his offensive game. He finished with 16 points in 27 minutes, shooting 7-for-17. He also added 6 boards and 2 assists.
His co-sophomore Mario Chalmers also broke out of his shooting slump, drilling 6-of-12 from the field, including 1 of his 2 trey attempts. He was equally as good handling the ball, looking very comfortable running the offense. I kinda figured that Tony Parker would have his way with Chalmers, especially on defense, but that was not the case at all. Parker was made almost invisible, hitting only 1-of -4 and not doing much to stop Rio on offense.
The final ‘young star' to step up was perhaps the best player for the Heat on Sunday. Daequan Cook was the Heat's go-to guy on offense, and he did a great job handling and shooting the ball despite wearing a splint on his right wrist. I can definitely where the rumblings of Cook playing the point came from as he looks to have added another dimension to his game with his improved ball skills.
If Cook can create shots for himself while holding the ball, that would be a huge plus. He was the ‘Wade' of the game last night, as when the Heat we're down by 2 with under 10 seconds left, you knew coming out of the timeout who was going to get the ball. The shot was a little long, but he still managed to dribble his way into an open look for the game winner. Still, shooting 8-of-17 (4-of-9 from 3) for 20 points is something that I could definitely get used to coming from Dae Dae.
In limited minutes, Udonis Haslem looked much better. He stayed out of foul trouble and hit his outside jumpers which are key to his game. He shot 4-of-7 for 10 points and added 6 boards in only 18 minutes.
Dorell Wright finally hit a shot, making his third and final attempt of the night, moving him to 1-of-10 for the preseason.
Erik Spoelstra gave us a little insight to Dwyane Wade's injury, which is a bit unique and may not be the simple thing that it was first made out to be.
"He was actually able to do quite a few exercises in the weight room and that's going to be part of the proactive approach we take with him, to try to gain more flexibility and also build up some strength," Coach Erik Spoelstra said of the rib injury. "What the training staff wants to do is build flexibility and build some strength in that area and hopefully that'll help. It's a unique injury."
John Lucas III looked good in extended minutes, but not good enough to make me write that he should be an everyday NBA backup. Apparently the Heat coaching staff feels the same way, as Coach Spo told reporters that he is meeting with Pat Riley about the possibility of bringing in a PG.
"That's something we'll definitely address," Spoelstra said. We haven't targeted a specific guy right now. But we've met about it and will continue to meet."
Pat Riley has a knack for bringing in guys just before the season begins (see Mourning, Alonzo), so the next few weeks could get interesting. One thing is for sure...the Heat brass is not pleased with what they have seen from their team so far, and I have to agree. For the talent they have on the roster, the level of play should be much better. Hopefully last night was a start.