The Heat crossed one to-do off of its preseason list Friday night: breaking into the win column.
The Heat found its first preseason win of the season at Kansas City’s Sprint Center, defeating previously unbeaten Golden State 115-108 in the first preseason meeting between the teams since 1999.
Kansas product Mario Chalmers put the Heat ahead with a three-pointer with 5:04 to play. It was part of a rally that came just when it seemed Miami was destined to drop its fifth straight preseason game. Shawne Williams hit a three-pointer with 32 seconds left that proved to be the dagger.
The Heat (1-4) had a 27-23 lead after the first quarter, but not much went right in the middle of the game. Golden State (4-1) exploded for 33 points to take control. The Warriors found open looks and had little trouble converting.
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David Lee (24 points) and Klay Thompson (29 points) took turns scoring.
Miami, meanwhile, had a couple of 24-second violations, and wasn’t able to replicate the offensive flow of Golden State. The Heat had six players in double figures, led by 21 points from Chris Bosh. Williams and Dwyane Wade scored 19 each.
All of that changed in the fourth quarter. The Heat chipped away, quickly pulling within three points before Golden State responded.
Miami’s third charge was the charm. The Heat ripped off a 7-0 run to take control of the game going away.
With the first win crossed off, Miami’s next item is figuring out the point guard.
Chalmers, Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier are all splitting minutes, vying for the job.
Cole got the start in Friday night’s game, finishing with five points.
While Erik Spoelstra and the rest of the Heat coaching staff will mull over the issue for the remainder of the preseason.
There’s no question that Chalmers was the people’s choice Friday. It wasn’t a fair contest, really.
The Sprint Center sits approximately 40 miles from the University of Kansas campus where Chalmers played.
Former Jayhawks are always popular in the Kansas City area, but Chalmers got himself a special place in the hearts of Kansas fans by hitting a buzzer-beating three-pointer in the 2008 NCAA title game against Memphis.
That popularity manifests itself every time the Heat have visited Sprint Center.
“Here and North Carolina, my ticket requests is crazy. It’s good to play in front of friends and family, though,” Chalmers said with a smile. “We come by once a year and play, it’s always an entertaining game. We always want to come out here and play in front of the Jayhawk fans.”
Chalmers signed a few more autographs before the game. He entered the game at the 7:38 mark of the first quarter to one of the loudest ovations of the evening. He got the same response when he drilled a three-pointer a few minutes later.
Roles will undoubtedly change as the Heat adjust to life without LeBron James, and Wade isn’t worried about how he’ll fit into the plan.
“That’s up to coach. He’s doing a great job of getting everybody involved and keeping everybody calm and getting everybody ready for the game,” Chalmers said. “Right now we’re doing a lot of ball movement, keeping everybody involved, so that’s a good thing.
“To be able to go to the finals like that and lose the way we did was tough, but at the same time it’s a new year, new team, and we’re focused and driven for this year,” Chalmers said.