LeBron James Returns, Heat Still Fall to Bobcats
After losing their first four games, the Bobcats won their second game of the preseason behind strong performances by D.J. Augustin, Nazr Mohammed and Tyrus Thomas -- taking full advantage of the Heat's weaknesses at the center and point guard positions.
Though the Heat were the better team when LeBron James and Chris Bosh were on the court, Miami's coaching staff has plenty of work to do figuring out how to stop allowing so many baskets in the paint and allowing quicker point guards to penetrate so easily. Carlos Arroyo ran the Heat's offense well upon his return from injury but gave up more points on the other end with Augustin having his way.
The Bobcats simply shot better than the Heat, relying on an efficient and conservative offense compared to Miami's high-flying yet often scatterbrained attack. Many of Miami's errors were unforced, mostly due to over-passing the ball and forcing shots when the shot clock was winding down.
LeBron Back at Full Strength
The good news for Miami is that LeBron James returned to the court and continued to show just how intense his focus on the upcoming season really will be. Showing no setbacks from his minor hamstring injury, James was his usual MVP self with 33 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals in only 29 minutes.
The game didn't start well for James, who was initially distracted by one too many non-calls from the refs and threw up an airball with a blocked shot or two mixed in for good measure. After complaining to the officials early in the game, James put it behind him midway through the first quarter and began finding his own shot and finishing most plays on his own. Perhaps James knew full well the Heat needed him the most in the role he seemingly had left behind in Cleveland with the continued absence of Dwyane Wade. And just like Chris Bosh had done against the New Orleans Hornets, James was a one-man wrecking crew in the third quarter with 16 points (shooting 5 of 8 from the field, 6 of 7 from the free-throw line), four rebounds, two assists and no turnovers.
"For me, I feel like I'm ready (for the regular season)," said James after the game. "I don't need those moments to know that I'm ready, but at the same time it's a great feeling to play at a high level like that in a quarter and to be able to give my team the opportunity to succeed. I cherish those moments."
Larry Brown Praises Riley, Heat Free Agency Haul
Though some coaches like Phil Jackson and Stan Van Gundy have grumbled over the Heat's roster overhaul, count Bobcats coach Larry Brown as a firm supporter for what Pat Riley and his staff accomplished.
"They've done an amazing job," noted Brown before the game. "Not only with the (Chris) Bosh and LeBron (James) pieces but they've surrounded them with some pretty good players. Pat (Riley) has done a terrific job and they have a terrific young coach so they'll figure it out."
Brown continued by appreciating what special players the Heat had in Wade and James.
"They're two great young players," said Brown. "Every since they stepping into our league they have played the right way in my mind. They make people around them better. I think it'll be an easy thing for them to figure out how to make each other successful and their teammates successful."
Bosh Pushes Through Difficult Shooting Performance
James returned healthy after one game out -- just as Bosh was starting to get comfortable as the primary offensive threat on his new team. While Bosh had some highlight-worthy moments for his new fans, his shooting was off with many of his usually reliable midrange jumpers not falling as he went 5 for 14 from the field.
More encouraging for coach Spoelstra was the fact that his starting power forward still was able to put his stamp on the game regardless with six offensive rebounds in 25 minutes of work, something that even Bosh seemed a bit surprised at how many there were under his name.
"That was kind of a point of emphasis for myself for this year," Bosh said after the game. "I wanted to be a little bit better on the offensive glass because I knew Dwyane, LeBron, Mike (Miller) and Eddie (House) are going to be shooting the ball a lot and I know there are going to be some rebounds that I can put myself in decent position to be aggressive. This is not going to be the first bad shooting night that I have, and I'm trying to become a better rebounder because winning teams have great rebounders."