Miami went into Kansas City for the 2nd straight preseason but this time the atmosphere was just a little different. The Sprint Center was packed full of 18,500 fans; the game sold out sometime during July. Pretty impressive but not surprising considering the game featured the premiere team in the NBA in the Heat and the up and coming Thunder who have Kevin Durant, one of the best young players in the league.
The Heat offense got off to a slow start. It felt like they were trying to force things and the Thunder capitalized, jumping out to an early 5-point lead. Miami continued looking a bit lethargic on both ends but the Thunder looked quicker and a little more organized.
It wouldn't last, as it just took the Heat a little while to hit their stride. Also, Miami's D picked up when Udonis came into the game. He is really flourishing in his reserve role, shown by his success last season, which seems to have carried over to this year. The 1-2 power forward punch of Chris Bosh and Udonis is by far the best in the NBA.
Daequan Cook drilled a trey to open scoring in the 2nd quarter, reminding the Heat of what they gave up...other then his $2.1 million contract. Zydrunas Ilgauskas came off the bench to start quarter, getting his 1st action as a member of the Heat. He drilled his first J from just inside 3-point line, giving Heat their 1st lead at 35-33.
Chris Bosh came out in the 2nd half on a mission to take the game over. He scored at ease, really dominating Thunder forward Jeff Green, who is a pretty darn good power forward in this league. Bosh scored 10 points in the first 4:07 of the 2nd half, pushing his game total to 23.
Miami began pulling away in the 3rd quarter, led by Bosh and LeBron. James got his first triple of the preseason and shortly after he landed his first breakaway dunk, pushing his game total to 20 points. Miami would finish the 3rd quarter with a 16-point lead, taking a close game and breaking it wide open. This I expect will become a trend as scoring shouldn't be a problem for this team.
The Heat emptied their bench in the 4th quarter, bringing in Dexter Pittman and Shavlik Randolph to play with Kenny Hasbrouck, Patrick Beverly and Anthony Mason Jr. The four of them combined to score just 8 points on just 1-of-14 shooting. Other then Pittman, I don't expect any of them to make the final 15-man roster but you never know what could happen.
Chris Bosh and LeBron James were downright dominant. Bosh finished with 23 points and 7 rebounds while LeBron came away with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists. Neither played more then 30 minutes so imagine what kind of numbers they will put up when playing full games, assuming they are needed in the 4th quarter. I don't expect their numbers to drop when D-Wade gets back from his hammy injury.
- Udonis Haslem scored 11 points (4-of-5) with 7 boards in 1st half, finishing with 17 and 9. He also went 9-of-9 from the charity stripe.
- Joel Anthony went scoreless for the 2nd straight game, but he did come away with 3 blocks in the 1st half.
- Mike Miller's shooting needs some work. He shot 6-of-13, including 3-of-10 from beyond the arc. On one offensive possession he missed three straight triples.
- As a team the Heat hit just 5 of their 23 shots from 3-point range.
- The Thunder made their first 23 shots from the foul line before finishing the game 36-of-37. They were the leagues 2nd best free throw shooting team last season.
- Big Z played his first 13 minutes in a Heat uniform, finishing with 8 points on 4-of-8 shooting while grabbing 4 boards. He showed range, rebounding...the full package for a center, starting or backup.
Miami is right back at it tomorrow night when they travel to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Tipoff from the AT&T center is at 8:30 but this game wont be broadcast on TV; it's a radio only game.