Greg Oden is with the Miami Heat largely because of what he is. "You see what he brings to the table, that size," coach Erik Spoelstra said of the reemerging 7-foot, 273-pound center now into the second month of his comeback from four years away from the NBA. But Spoelstra didn't stop there, also noting, "the athleticism that he brings." Saturday night against the Orlando Magic, as the Heat extended their winning streak to seven, the moves, as well as the mass, also were on display. There was a hard dribble toward the paint, a spin and a pass to Norris Cole for a 3-pointer, Oden's first NBA assist since 2009. A few sequences later, Cole reciprocated on a play that led to an Oden dunk. Moments later, Oden got enough lift for an alley-oop dunk off a pass from LeBron James. It added up to an eight-point performance, Oden's highest-scoring outing of the season, having scored 36 total points in his previous 12 appearances. Cole said that second-quarter sequence showcased the possibilities beyond merely banging bulk against Roy Hibbert and other oversized big men. "He kicked it out, could have shot that one," Cole said of the pass for his lone 3-pointer of the night. "But he dribble drived, his man helped." Shortly thereafter came payback, for the first of Oden's dunks. "You got to reward him when he's open," Cole said. "And he finished, as he always does, strong." For one of the few times amid his comeback, Oden was in a rhythm. "It's just the more I play, the more I get comfortable out there and the more they get comfortable with me," he said, as the Heat turned their attention to Monday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats at AmericanAirlines Arena, the final game of their four-game homestand. "Every game's a work in progress. Last game [Thursday against the New York Knicks], I didn't feel like it was that great," he said. "This game was better. Next game, I just got to hope to get better. It goes game by game." While Magic center Nikola Vucevic got his traditional double-double against the Heat, the pairing of brawn vs. brawn created the opportunity for Oden to match up against someone closer to his own size. The beef of Charlotte's Al Jefferson could offer a similar opportunity Monday. "You see another big guy," Oden said, "that's why they brought me here, to play against the big guys and put another big body in there." But Spoelstra stressed he views Oden as more than that. "He does not lumber up and down the court," he said. "And he's a smart player. He's a smart, heady player that's picked up our system in a short period of time. So I like the contributions that he's been making, and he's been putting in a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes, just to be available every single night like he is." And he certainly is not shying from his mandate.
Greg Oden measuring up with more than just bulk for Heat
South Florida Sun Sentinel | Mar 2