Shane Battier was the first player to score for the Heat on Saturday night. That’s something he hasn’t done in quite some time.
It is, after all, hard to be Miami’s initial scorer from the bench.
“If I’m open, I’m going to shoot it,” Battier said. “I have the ultimate green light.”
Chris Bosh became the latest victim of flu-like symptoms that have been floating around the Heat the past few weeks.
With Bosh missing Miami’s 105-89 win over the visiting Jazz, Battier got the call to jump back into the starting lineup.
Battier wasn’t exactly thrilled with the assignment, not with Utah’s starting front line being beefier and taller than what the Heat had to offer.
“I had some very un-Christmas-like thoughts about my friend,” Battier joked about Bosh being sick. “I hope he gets better. But I said to myself, ‘Of all the nights you’re going to get sick C.B.’ It’s a challenge.”
Battier started Miami’s first 12 games of the season but then missed three games with a minor knee injury. Battier came off the bench in Miami’s previous seven games.
On Saturday, Battier got the Heat on the board with a 24-foot shot off a pass from Udonis Haslem.
Battier and Haslem were together among the starting five for the first time this season. Both played extended minutes with Bosh back at home.
Haslem had replaced Battier in the starting lineup in six of the previous seven games. Against the bigger Utah front, Haslem ended with nine rebounds.
“Actually, it was the first time I can remember when Shane and I played together,” Haslem said. “We’re usually on different parts of the rotation, but we worked well together.”
Battier opened Miami’s scoring with a three-pointer, but that’s all he had until the third. Again, Battier led off Miami’s half with a three-pointer as he ended up hitting on three in a row from beyond the arc.
“It was a tough first half and we were just trying to find a rhythm,” Battier said.
Miami led by four at the break.
“One play can wake us up,” he said. “I had a couple good looks and knocked them down. It seemed to pick up our energy and it seemed to sap Utah’s energy.”
Miami was up six on Utah when Battier started hitting from downtown. After his third make, the Heat were up 18.
Coach Erik Spoelstra, however, praised Battier and Haslem for their hard style of play against the Jazz. Battier was 4 of 8 from the field (all three-point shots) and had three rebounds and three blocked shots.
“They were throwing their bodies around without any regard for their health,” Spoelstra said. “They were colliding, hitting, jumping at loose balls. They did all dirty work. [Battier] had some open looks in the first half and didn’t make them. It didn’t faze anyone. Then he was able to hit a couple and give us double-digit separation.”