For a second year in a row, Miami Heat fans welcomed back the NBA world champions at the AmericanAirlines Arena with the annual team scrimmage held at the conclusion of training camp.
LeBron James ditched his trademark headband and played sparingly, as did his superstar teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (which led the Red team with 17 points and 10 rebounds). LeBron only scored one basket, but who's counting in a game with such an insignificant score? Even with few minutes of game play, the three each had their moments to the delight of their fans. Unsurprisingly, those fighting for the last roster spots played much harder than the veterans did with the standouts being Justin Hamilton and Eric Griffin (11 points, 9 rebounds). Hamilton in particular showed a nice, soft touch around the basket (though he did miss more than a few easy baskets around the rim) and a willingness to crash the boards on both ends. Rashard Lewis (10 points, 7 rebounds) showed off his shooting skills on both sides of the three-point area and James Jones contributed 15 points but was inefficient from long range tonight. Norris Cole played well on both ends of the floor and finished with 14 points and 8 assists.
The starters for the Red Team were LeBron, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Lewis and Joel Anthony. The White team starters were Wade, Bosh, Jones, Cole, and Shane Battier.
Udonis Haslem, Michael Beasley, Chris Andersen, Roger Mason Jr and Greg Oden did not participate tonight.
Highlights of the night included Ray Allen sprinting to the floor to be the first Heat player practicing shots during the pregame routine. He camped out on the free throw line. Later during "halftime", he practiced half-court shots - hitting nothing but net on his fourth try. Birdman enjoyed the most cheers from the fans, aside from the Big 3, despite not playing tonight. Later, he mistakenly referred to the Heat's home as the American Airlines Center (the home of the Dallas Mavericks) during an in-game interview with Heat television personality Jason Jackson though fans either didn't care or simply didn't hear it due to the loud cheering for the fan favorite. Beasley sat next to Haslem, slightly limping about during stoppages in time. Speaking of which, the game was divided into four 10-minute quarters in which the game clocked only stopped for timeouts.
The Heat will host the Atlanta Hawks tomorrow night at the AmericanAirlines Arena in their first preseason game. The game will be televised by Sun Sports.