Bosh proves his worth in defeat
NEW ORLEANS -- It seems to be the Heat's unofficial position to feign shock at the notion that Chris Bosh could become a forgotten man at times in this upcoming mega season.
"He's a multi-year All-Star and has been on the Olympic team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's proven himself as a player."
"I don't see why people would forget what I'm capable of doing," Bosh said.
There isn't a good reason why anyone would forget but there's also human nature. In any "big three" one guy has to be third. There's a reason third wheels don't always make a calm ride.
Not that his opinion should really matter but Shaquille O'Neal is openly calling the Heat's star base the "big two." Yes, in part it's because of his personal rivalry with Bosh but also because that is the way he sees it.
Whether other players around the league or many fans want to admit it or not, that thought is out there. It isn't really fair to Bosh, and that is why his teammates and coaches snap to his defense at the suggestion. But privately, of course there is mystery over how big a piece of the pie Bosh will be getting this season.
That is why what happened Wednesday night at New Orleans Arena was important even though the Heat had eight players out with injury and appeared to be facing a throw-away game against the Hornets.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade didn't play with varying degrees of right hamstring problems. The Heat ended up losing by 14 points and they turned the ball over 22 miserable times because point guards Carlos Arroyo (groin) and Mario Chalmers (ankle) were both out. Yet there was progress, even if much of it might have been in unspoken terms.
Bosh scored 24 points in 23 minutes, making 9-of-15 shots. Now that may seem intuitive, if Wade and James are out then of course Bosh should lead the team in scoring. But it was the way Bosh did it that made the impression.
In the third quarter and with the Heat down 16 points on the second night of a back-to-back, there was a feeling that it might be time to request that officials employ a running clock just to get everything over with. But Bosh didn't waste the chance to make a little statement.
Fill-in guards Patrick Beverley -- who was shaking off a blow to the head that caused him to need four stitches -- and Kenny Hasbrouck were on their way to nine turnovers and struggling getting the offense working. So Spoelstra started to ride Bosh, dumping the ball to him every possession in the post and turning him into a point forward.
Bosh responded by scoring 20 points in the quarter, making 6-of-7 shots. More important, he functioned as the hub of the offense by exploiting double teams, finding weak spots and looking to distribute as much as score. He was why the Heat went 10-of-16 shooting and blasted the Hornets' front by a 36-19 margin in the quarter.
That is the type of action that could prove quite valuable during the season when so much attention will be on his teammates. Not that anyone didn't think Bosh could do it, but doing it with his new teammates might've had some value.
"Now it is about fitting into our system," Spoelstra said. "It was about learning how to get the ball into him cleanly and reading coverages they threw at him. He was very unselfish. I don't think he worries about how much he'll score. That is not the point. The point is to use all the flexibility and the weapons we have and to do it together."
That is easy to draw up in the playbook and then run through in practice, but it's sometimes a tougher sell when it counts. Especially for Wade and James, both of whom are not used to having a versatile post option to use when they need it. And the way defenses will likely play the Heat this season, there will be plenty of times when the perimeter stars need it in the half court.
"I hope people forget," Bosh said. "That is the best part of being in this situation is that I can [go along] silently and do my job. We have a lot of weapons, we can go with anything. Of course, those guys are going to be the playmakers. They are going to have the ball in their hands most of the time. And there are times when I'm going to give those guys a rest in some half-court situations."
James and Wade were resting Wednesday. Time will tell if they were also watching and learning as well.
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