INDIANAPOLIS -- James Jones talks more trash than anyone on the Heat, but not to opposing players. Jones lets his teammates have it nearly every day the Heat plays a game.
Ever since the Heat’s first road game of the season, a small group of the team’s reserves have played a series of three-on-three before games. For the most part, the teams remain the same for every pregame session: veterans against nonveterans. It’s during these games that Jones lets the young bucks have it.
And the pick-up games are not for the faint of heart.
“Every day, it’s going to be bloodshed,” Jones likes to say.
Most recently, Chris Andersen gave Dexter Pittman a bloody nose. It happened during pregame court time before Wednesday’s 105-85 victory against the Nets.
“I was coming across the baseline and he didn’t see me, and he popped me with the back of his hand,” Pittman said. “Me and him are physical guys, so I kind of got him back a little, too, later on in the series; but he didn’t bleed.”
And that’s probably a good thing. Andersen needed all of his strength during the game, when he received his first significant minutes since signing with the Heat. Andersen entered with about three minutes remaining in the first quarter and immediately made an impact.
In his first three minutes, Andersen scored three points and had three rebounds. He finished with three points, five rebounds (three offensive), three personal fouls, one steal and one blocked shot in a little less than 10 minutes. Afterward, he said his legs felt like noodles and that he might not be playing in the pregame pick-up contests anymore.
Not so fast, Pittman said.
“We’re going to try to get him out there, because he’s funny and he’s very energetic,” Pittman said. “I’ve never seen anybody with a motor like him. It’s crazy.”
Pittman was one of three Heat reserves, including Joel Anthony and Jarvis Varnado, who attended an optional practice session Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The players worked on defense for about 45 minutes. Andersen and the rest of Miami’s players took the day off. The Heat (29-13) plays the Pacers (27-19) at 7 p.m. Friday.
“If your minutes are down, you try to get some work in and balance it out a little bit,” Anthony said. “Get some cardio in, get a real strong workout.”
Anthony’s minutes have always fluctuated. Last season, he shared time with Ronny Turiaf. The same expectation applies now. As Andersen steadily builds strength in his legs, he and Anthony will split more time.
How does Anthony feel about once again losing minutes? Not a problem, Anthony said while a trainer wrapped ice packs around his knees inside an empty arena. On other teams, Anthony said concerns about playing time could sometimes be a problem. With the Heat, sacrificing for the team is just part of the plan.
“We have a lot of really good professionals and guys who are willing to sacrifice and are mentally tough to get through that,” Anthony said. “Some guys can’t do it. You see situations on teams where guys aren’t really able to handle it because it’s tough, but this team is built to have guys who can deal with that and stay together as a team and focus on the most important thing, which is for us to win.
“All the individual stuff and your ego, you have to check that stuff at the door when you’re here … as long as we continue to do that, we’ll be successful.”
Early in his career, Anthony idolized Andersen and remembers fondly the battles the two players had when Andersen played for Denver.
“He’s a great addition to our team, someone that is proven to be a good defender, a good rebounder, a shot blocker, and I see him as someone who did a lot of things that I looked up to when I was coming in,” Anthony said. “So, in terms of us doing a lot of the same things, I think we can find a way to have that work. We’ve done it in the past. Last year, you know, we had Ronny on the team, and it was something that was still able to work.”
Just don’t expect to see Andersen on the court before games much anymore. He’s getting too old for double duty.