With Chris ‘Birdman‘ Andersen’s ribs still ailing him and Justin Hamilton (strained hip) the latest Heat big man to sustain an injury, veteran Udonis Haslem was put back to work Saturday night against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Heat’s 34-year-old co-captain saw his first action of the season when he entered for Chris Bosh with 6:37 to go in the first half. Haslem promptly scored on a reverse layup the first time he touched the ball.
Haslem later hit a 12-foot jumper from the wing and scored six points in the opening quarter, showing no signs the strained left quad that kept him out the first five games was bothering him at all.
“It was disappointing [to miss the first five games] because I put a lot of work in this summer,” Haslem said. “I came in probably the best shape I’ve been in a long time. I had a conversation with [coach Erik Spoelstra] about a lot of things he needed me to do. I was ready to go out there and play.”
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Chris Bosh said it was going to be good to have Haslem’s veteran presence back out there — especially on the defensive end. The Heat is still trying to work in several new pieces and spent two days of practice following Wednesday’s loss at Charlotte drilling defensive principles “ad nauseam,” Spoelstra said.
“It's going to help out a lot,” Bosh said of having Haslem healthy. “You can never have too much help down low, especially at that position. It’s good to have Udonis back not only in that sense, but to have somebody on that backside defense that knows what they are doing in the rotations. He’s somebody who can help be that linebacker that we always talk about, directing guys where they should be.”
SunSports honored Dwyane Wade’s 700 career blocks (he reached the milestone Wednesday in Charlotte) with a special video package during its broadcast Saturday night. Wade has the sixth-most blocks all-time by a guard in NBA history, and the most by a player 6-4 or shorter.
Wade said Saturday the latter stat is the one he’s most proud of. Four of Wade’s blocks, according to SunSports, were on Bosh when he played for Toronto.
“They were probably fouls,” Bosh said with a grin. “I'm sure they were fouls — those help side blocks he gives you. It wasn’t like I was looking at him and he blocked me. It was probably those I’m shooting, he was behind me and he fouled me. So I’d like to congratulate him on his 696 blocks.”
Wade got a good chuckle out of Bosh’s comments. “I'll take that from CB, but nobody else,” Wade said. “I can get four more from somewhere.”
EASING WAY BACK
Veteran swingman Danny Granger said Saturday he appreciates the way the Heat takes a cautious approach to nagging injuries in general — not just with him.
Granger strained his left hamstring going up for a dunk in practice shortly before the start of the season and the team has been patient with the 31-year-old, opting to rest him the first five games of the season even though he’s said he could probably play at less than 100 percent if needed.
Granger, expected to provide offense off the bench once he returns to full health, sat out the first 25 games of the season last year with a left calf strain and then the final nine games of the season with the Clippers due to a strained left hamstring.
“The good thing about Miami is they won’t put you out on the floor half-legged or hobbling,” said Granger, whom Spoelstra said would only play Saturday night if he was absolutely needed. “In years past I probably would have played and been limited. The last thing you want to do is push it early in the season. It’s encouraging because I don’t think a lot of teams would do that. A lot of teams would put the players on the court and say everybody plays hurt.”
Granger said eventually he expects to ease his way “back in like Josh [McRoberts] is doing right now.”
SUNDAY: HEAT AT MAVERICKS
▪ When/where: 7:30 p.m.; AmericanAirlines Center.
▪ TV/radio: Sun Sports, WAXY 104.3 FM, 790 AM and WAQI 710 AM (Spanish).
▪ Series: Mavericks lead 29-26.
▪ Noteworthy: The Heat swept the season series last year and have now won six in a row in Dallas. The Mavericks are 2-0 at home this season with wins over Boston and Utah and are coming off a 105-82 win over the Jazz in Salt Lake City on Friday. Chris Andersen (ribs) and Justin Hamilton (hip) were ruled out of Saturday’s game against the T’Wolves.