The Miami Heat finished the Orlando Summer League with a 5-0 record and pleased with how they played. After winning on Friday morning against the Detroit Pistons, they flew to Las Vegas to begin the Summer League play there against the Utah Jazz.
Miami brought pretty much the same roster with the exception of a few players. Willie Reed left the team in the middle of the Orlando SL to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, and the Heat replaced him with PF Drew Gordon, the brother of Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon.
The Heat got out to a slow start, probably due to a lack of time to warm up and their tired legs. But once they got it together, Miami was in control of the game. The Heat took the first quarter 19-18, behind a balanced effort from josh Richardson. Then in the second quarter, the Heat used an 8-0 run to go into halftime up 39-35. Shabazz Napier helped lead that charge. The 2nd half had the Heat in control for pretty much the entire way with their lead fluctuating, but Miami always on top.
Greg Whittington played well for Miami and finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. He spread the floor and used his length to disrupt the Jazz. Gabe Olaseni also score in double figures with 14 points. He was in the right place at the right time often under the rim.
The Heat and Jazz had a close finish at the end, but Miami knocked down it's free throws to keep Utah at enough of a distance not to keep the Heat from going 6-0 in Summer League play.
They won the game 82-79.
We could talk a lot about the players, but in reality, with how the Heat roster is shaking up, only a few guys have any real shot at making the team, so that's who we are going to talk about.
The 4 Players who didn't play
Justise Winslow did not play due to general soreness. He played in 4 of the 5 games in Orlando and with the Heat traveling cross country overnight, they decided to let him sit this one out. Henry Walker didn't play due to a sprained ankle that he has been dealing with since before the Summer League started. Zoran Dragic will not play for the Heat in the Las Vegas Summer League, the team decided he would only play in Orlando. And as you know, Tyler Johnson won't play for the rest of the Summer League after breaking his jaw in Orlando.
Yet the Heat still played 11 players and the minutes were spread out. For Utah, Trey Lyles was very aggressive, but not very efficient. Bryce Cotton was a spark plug that should be noticed by the team. He had a game-high 24 points. But enough about the Jazz, here's the guys you are really wondering about.
This was a great showing for Josh. We can be beyond the box score and see the flat out hustle from the young player. He pushed the ball and cut into the defense on occasion to initiate the offense. He played both guard positions and excelled at both. When at point guard, Richardson seemed to be at a comfort level in control. When at SG, he often got rebounds and played within the offense.
He's making a case for himself, and he is a lock to be in training camp. Maybe he's the reason the Heat haven't offered a contract to Marcus Thornton yet. Richardson finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in 28 minutes.
Napier was himself in the game, and that's good. He had 13 points and 4 assists. But there were plenty of plays where he was putting the ball right where it needed to be even if it didn't lead to a score. That's what you want from a true point guard. Napier knocked in 8-10 FTs as well.
He was under control and was able to use hesitation to create offense for the Heat. Napier seems to be showing some improvement even amid not being able to play much since his hernia injury.
A pretty quiet night for James Ennis, which isn't a good thing. With the recent signings, everyone with a partial guarantee should be doing everything they can do make this team. Ennis played pretty good defense in this game, but on offense, he didn't do anything to help you remember him.
Ennis had only points 6 points on 2-7 shooting. In a NBA game off the bench, that can be acceptable at times. In a Summer League game as a starter, he's got to do better than that. He didn't attack nearly enough and he didn't assert himself in the offense. He needs to be better.
The Heat will play the Denver Nuggets on Monday at 8:00 PM EST.