Monday night’s return to action wasn’t exactly stellar for the Heat’s Tyler Johnson.
He missed his first five shots before finally hitting a layup with 6:42 to play in the fourth quarter and finished with only three points and a rebound in 19 minutes. But it wasn’t his shoulder – that caused him to miss five straight games – that was bothering him.
“My wind was probably the biggest thing that I struggled with,” Johnson said Monday after practice. “You can’t really simulate game situations. You can do your conditioning on the court, but it’s nothing like the pace you got in the NBA. And I think Brooklyn is No. 1 in pace. It’s a tough one to come back to.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra has had to manage the most injured team in the league all season. So, getting Johnson up to speed, he said Tuesday, shouldn’t be a problem.
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“That’s been the thing about this season. It’s not necessarily all the injuries we’ve had. It’s working guys back in, changing the rotation, guys getting in rhythm,” he said. “It takes guys a certain amount of time. You saw with Dion, it probably took him five or six games before he started to look like who he was before he got hurt. So there’s a process with it. There’s no excuses about it. [Tyler’s] minutes need to be productive and he was from a winning standpoint. His minutes were a positive and he can build on that.”
▪ Forward Luke Babbitt, who asked out of Monday’s game early in the third quarter with a right ankle injury, didn’t practice on Tuesday and is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Hawks. Spoelstra said his ankle was tight and listed Babbitt as “day-to-day.”
▪ Forward James Johnson, who said he sustained a light stinger late in Monday’s win over Brooklyn, practiced Tuesday without issue.
AN ODE TO KOBE?
When Dion Waiters played at Syracuse he reportedly had his teammates call him Kobe Wade because of how much he liked Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade and because of how much he thought his game mirrored theirs.
Monday, Waiters used one of Bryant’s old quotes to describe his mentality when it comes to shooting.
“My confidence never went away. It will never go away,” Waiters said. “I say it all the time and I mean it: If you’re going to play in this league, you’ve got to have confidence. No matter what the situation is, you’ve got to believe in yourself. I’m a guy who always did that because you have to. If you don’t, you don’t [belong] here.
“I’d rather go 0 for 30 than 0 for 9 because you go 0 for 9 that means you stopped shooting. That means you lost confidence. That’s just my mindset.”