The eighth and final preseason game ended up being more important than any other.
After an extended absence from his teammates, Rashard Lewis rejoined the Heat on Friday at AmericanAirlines Arena and started against the Brooklyn Nets. Lewis was away mourning the loss of his brother-in-law, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this month. His brother-in-law was 25.
“If anything, being with the guys in the locker room and on the basketball court, it’s a safe haven,” Lewis said. “When you’re at home, that’s when you think about it. I get a lot of support from these guys.”
Lewis finished with four points in the Heat’s 108-87 loss to the Nets. He returned to Miami on Thursday after spending 14 days away from the team. Lewis flew to Los Angeles on Oct. 12 after the Heat’s preseason game against the Bobcats in Kansas City.
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“I’m sure he has to catch up on his conditioning, but he’s more than happy to be back with his extended family with the Heat,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It will be a great mental diversion.”
Lewis said before the game that his brother-in-law lived with him for time while he played for the Seattle Supersonics and that he helped put his brother-in-law through school.
Before his excused absence from the Heat, Lewis had positioned himself as an option to replace Mike Miller, who was released this offseason under the collective bargaining agreement’s one-time amnesty clause. Lewis played 21 minutes against the Nets and was 2 of 5 from the field. While he was away, Lewis said he was only able to work out at a local gym. Getting back into basketball shape will take a few days.
Neither LeBron James nor Chris Bosh played on Friday. Greg Oden also did not play. The Heat, which carried 17 players into Friday’s game, must reduce its roster by 5 p.m. on Monday. Eric Griffin told the Miami Herald before Friday’s game that he is making plans to play in China if he doesn’t make the roster. Justin Hamilton will consider the D-League if he is cut.
Udonis Haslem led the Heat in scoring with 16 points in 21 minutes. He was 8 of 9 from the field in his most productive game this preseason. Wade, playing in his third consecutive preseason game, was 3 of 11 from the field for eight points. Mario Chalmers scored 12 points, going 6 of 7 from the field. He also had six assists.
Michael Beasley, who debuted a shaved head, had an inefficient game, going 4 of 13 from the field for 11 points in 21 minutes off the bench. Ray Allen had 12 points off the bench.
The Heat plays in Brooklyn for the Nets’ regular-season opener on Nov. 1 and, despite the lopsided score on Friday, the Nets are still in the process of establishing team chemistry.
Nets point guard Deron Williams, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury, played his first preseason game Friday. Williams went 4 of 5 from the field and 3 of 4 from three-point range for 11 points in 10 minutes. Alan Anderson led the Nets with 17 points off the bench, and reserve Jason Terry had 14 points. Paul Pierce had 16 points and Joe Johnson scored 11.
PRAISE FOR MASON
Roger Mason Jr’s spot on the roster appears secure. Before the game, Spoelstra praised the combo guard’s understanding for the game.
“It looks like he has played in our system for a long time,” Spoelstra said. “If you just watched one of our games and watched Roger Mason play, you would think that he was with us the last three Finals runs. He has that type of intelligence and versatility.
“He has the ability to play two positions. We have played him position-less at our three perimeter positions, and he’s fit in well. He’s also helped us pre-practice and post-practice. He’s probably a future coach one day. I know he doesn’t want to hear that now because that’s long down the line, but that’s the type of intelligence he has as a basketball player.”