LeBron James took the day off. The Miami Heat took the third quarter off as well but managed to save the day at the very end thanks to a few unlikely players.
Things were looking good in the first half, with Mike Miller hitting four of his three-pointers and Shane Battier making a pair of them as well along with an active Dwyane Wade making up for the absence of the reigning MVP. Even Dexter Pittman had his best moments of the preseason, which might not mean much considering former Heat player Eddy Curry was more productive than Tim Duncan. Regardless, he was active on both ends of the floor and while he continues to make blunders (including a three-second violation that robbed Miller of another three-pointer in the second half).
A furious charge from the reserves led the comeback in the fourth quarter that restored the lead at 98-97 with just 97 seconds left in the game with a Terrel Harris free throw after an aggressive penetration move to the basket from the top of the key. A clutch three pointer from Josh Harrellson and a driving bucket by Harris preserved the slim Heat lead for a rousing comeback victory that was well earned by the players fighting for a roster spot.
The Heat looked sharp early on in the game, with crisp passing and ball movement as Norris Cole led the way again while Mario Chalmers continues to sit out the preseason with a hamstring injury. They held a double-digit lead until the end of the second quarter when the Spurs made a run to cut the deficit to five points at halftime. A sloppy third quarter for the Heat quickly turned the game around and they were held to just 15 points while turning the ball over 10 times in 12 minutes of action.
Even though Ray Allen was off with his shot for the most part of the game, his former Supersonics teammate Rashard Lewis had a productive second half, with his long range shot returning as the Heat made a comeback in the fourth quarter. Harrellson continues to make the case that a roster spot is all but assured for the young big man, with the highlight of his night being a put-back dunk over the outstretched arms of a pair of Spurs defenders.
Cole continues to show flashes of promise but also has his fair share of up-and-down moments, many involving questionable decision making and too many rushed shots. The backcourt duo of Terrel Harris and Garret Temple led the charge in the fourth quarter, while Cole and the starters looked on from the bench. Though Harris remains quite raw, there is definitely good reasons for him to stick around on the final roster for a second year.
In addition to Chalmers, the Heat have not played Udonis Haslem (quad) and Joel Anthony (hamstring) in the preseason yet.
"Right now, I'm encouraged about where our health status is for our team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game. "Those guys are able to practice, they're not able to play the games right now because we choose not to let them play in games. But they're able to do something every day. Rio had a good practice yesterday, UD has been practicing for a whole week. He was even doing work in China. We want to make sure it's fully healed so there isn't a setback so it doesn't become a lingering issue. So those guys will be up to speed plus they're already familiar with our system."