Continuity will have to wait. Then again, with this depth of talent, it is a luxury the Miami Heat can afford. Continuing to take the long view in a season they hope to again extend deep into June, the Heat went with their sixth different starting lineup in their first 11 games in Tuesday night's 104-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at AmericanAirlines Arena. And improved to 8-3. "We understand what needs to be done when guys are in there, in and out of the lineup," forward LeBron James said of winning with such lineup diversity. This time reverting to an either-or approach with Dwyane Wade when it comes to games on consecutive nights, the Heat this time sat out Wade a night before Wednesday's road game against the Orlando Magic. The result was the first start of the season for James Jones and uneven early play, including a scoreless first quarter from James. No matter. Not against a middling Hawks team lacking ailing Paul Millsap and Lou Williams. Not on a court where the Heat's only home loss came on a buzzer-beating desperation 3-pointer from Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green. Not when Mario Chalmers is contributing 12 third-quarter points in his return from suspension. "As long as we have three or four of the core guys available," Jones said, "the rest of the supporting cast, we do what we do." Ultimately, with center Chris Bosh scoring 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting, James adding a season-low 13 while required for just 31 minutes, and Ray Allen returning from illness to score 17, the Heat improved to 6-1 at home, with a defense that forced 24 Hawks turnovers. "I think it says a lot about everybody's professionalism," Bosh said of winning with so many lineup looks. "It's just guys always being ready, staying ready." This was supposed to be the night the Heat again would be whole, with Udonis Haslem back from a four-game absence due to back spasms and Allen back after missing three games with a cold. Instead, it was more mixing and matching from Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, including keeping Shane Battier in an undersized starting lineup instead of returning Haslem to the starting role he held for the first six games of the season. "I think with the starters," Spoelstra said. "I think it's proven that as long as it's the right fit there, and guys are committed to getting us off to a good start, our guys are comfortable there."
Wade sits, but latest Heat lineup rolls past Hawks 104-88
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Nov 20