Miami Heat’s Rashard Lewis accepts fewer minutes for greater good

Rashard Lewis said he’s very comfortable with playing fewer minutes in return for being with a title-contending team.

11/30/2012 6:27 PM

09/23/2013 6:52 PM

Rashard Lewis says he knows exactly what he signed up for when he joined the Miami Heat.

A two-time All-Star selection with Seattle and Orlando, Lewis has found minutes with the Heat to be at a premium.

Before starting in place of the injured Shane Battier on Thursday against the Spurs, Lewis — a forward who averaged better than 16 points per game in eight NBA seasons — didn’t leave the bench in wins over Milwaukee and Cleveland.

“We have a lot of talent on this team, and that’s the coach’s decision,’’ said Lewis, who scored three points with three rebounds in 21 minutes on Thursday.

“Different guys go on any given night. I can’t argue with it. I feel very comfortable here. ... There’s just a lot of talent here. You also have Mike Miller and James Jones - who hasn’t even seen the court. Everyone deserves minutes here.’’

With Battier out with a sprained knee, Lewis could find some more time on the court.

By signing with Miami, Lewis knew there would be times when he wouldn’t get as much time as he wants — much less what he had been used to.

Coach Erik Spoelstra spoke Wednesday about how sometimes it’s important for players to “check their egos at the door.’’

Lewis, Spoelstra said Friday, “is the perfect example of that.’’

“This is a team that already won a championship and we wanted to improve the roster,’’ Spoelstra continued. “The opportunity we’ve given Rashard is different than what he’s had before. He’s proven more in the past in this league. He’s a multiyear All-Star.

“But he helped bolster an already deep championship team. He’s been willing to sacrifice minutes and his role. He’s been terrific and sees the big picture. He’s going to be a big part of what we do.’’

Lewis, 33, signed a two-year deal with the Heat for the discounted rate of $2.8 million after New Orleans bought the remainder of his contract out after acquiring him in a deal with Washington.

Slowed by a knee injury that limited him to 28 games with the Wizards last season, Lewis seems content on doing what he has to do to help Miami repeat as champions.

Now in his 15th NBA season, Lewis has been to the postseason six times — and has yet to win the big ring. Lewis did help lead the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals.

“We have a championship team here,’’ Lewis said. “This team won a championship with pretty much the whole team back. They are going to stick with those guys. There’s nothing to fix. More than anything, you have to be ready when your name is called.”

Lewis isn’t the only big-name player Miami has coming off the bench as the most obvious is sharpshooter Ray Allen. Miami signed Allen to a three-year deal in July and explained to him that he, a future Hall of Famer, would be coming off the bench as well.

Miami sold Allen on the idea as he was excited in the role he would play late in games even if he didn’t start. Allen, who has taken and connected on more three-pointers than any other in NBA history, has come up huge for the Heat so far this season.

Allen has hit four three-pointers in the final minutes of a game to give Miami a lead. Allen has done so in Miami’s past two games — helping the Heat come back against the Cavaliers and Spurs.

“You have to have someone of Ray’s maturity to handle that,’’ Spoelstra said. “He’s getting 26 minutes a game with us, not the normal rhythm he is used to. He’s as good as anyone in the league. Not everyone in the league has the maturity to sign up for that role.’’

“He is another guy who sees the big picture and can do this for a long time. It’s a great luxury to have a guy who is a Hall of Famer and about as clutch a shooter as there is come off the bench. I don’t take that for granted.’’

Notes

Spoelstra said before Thursday’s game that Allen would be a game-time decision because of back tightness.

Allen, of course, did play against the Spurs and scored 20 points in 27 minutes. “He got treatment all day,” Spoelstra said on Friday.

Allen didn’t practice on Friday but is expected to play Saturday against the Nets.

“It’s still a little angry, but I’m doing what I can to get treatment [Friday and Saturday],” Allen said.

• Battier missed another day of practice Friday and remains day-to-day after skipping Thursday’s game with a sprained knee.

Spoelstra said Battier wouldn’t participate in Saturday’s shootaround but hasn’t officially ruled him out for the game.

• Brooklyn will be without center Brook Lopez, who sprained his right foot Wednesday against the Celtics. He was ruled out of Brooklyn’s game Friday in Orlando and Saturday against Miami. Lopez was held to eight points when Miami beat the Nets last month.
• Miami has won 10 in a row against the Nets and hasn’t lost to them since March 20, 2009.

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