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Heat scores just 64 points in loss to PistonsThe Heat set a franchise record for fewest points in a preseason game
Heat scores just 64 points in loss to PistonsThe Heat set a franchise record for fewest points in a preseason game as they were beaten easily in the opener.
BY ISRAEL GUTIERREZ
SAN JUAN - The defending world champs were at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico on Tuesday night, with the superstar duo of Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal playing a decent share of minutes.
The Eastern Conference power Detroit Pistons also were on the floor, giving the Caribbean country its only taste of NBA basketball this year.
And what drew the biggest ovation from the crowd?
The announcement that Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez hit a home run for Detroit in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. It's reasonable, given that Rodriguez is a Puerto Rico native and one of the country's most beloved athletes.
But the Heat didn't offer much of a counter during its 84-64 loss to the Pistons in the preseason opener. The Heat's total was the fewest points scored in a preseason game in franchise history.
The group of mostly familiar Heat players looked largely unorganized and shot a horrendous 31.5 percent from the floor and committed 25 turnovers, while the young players hoping to make an impact had nondescript performances in their first chance to impress.
Of the Heat's 17 available players, only James Posey and rookie Daniel Horton failed to log any minutes, and 15 players who did see time couldn't put together any semblance of a consistent offense.
Wade, playing with the protective wrap on his bothersome right hand, was 2 of 8 from the field for five points with three turnovers. O'Neal was just 1 of 5 from the floor on his way to four points and seven rebounds. Gary Payton led all Heat starters with seven points, and Jason Kapono provided an offensive boost off the bench with a team-high 12 points.
Antonio Burks was the first point guard off the bench, hitting 1 of 4 shots for two points with five assists and two turnovers in 16 minutes. Chris Quinn was the only Heat rookie to play the point guard spot, hitting on one of his four attempts with three rebounds, no assists and no turnovers.
In his first chance of what he considers an important preseason, Dorell Wright had an uneven night, mixing a few spectacular plays with some sloppy errors. He finished with 11 points on 5 of 10 shooting, four steals, two turnovers and a blocked shot.
MAKING A POINT
This isn't the first time O'Neal has played alongside undrafted point guards.
O'Neal helped Mike Penberthy survive for two years in the NBA with the Lakers, and he helped kick-start Jannero Pargo's career in Los Angeles. So the Heat's rookie group of Horton, Quinn, Vincent Grier and Robert Hite should like their chances playing with O'Neal.
''Whoever we pick on the team, nobody's probably going to know him,'' O'Neal said. ``So he's going to get a lot of wide open shots, especially when he throws the ball to me and the [defender] turns his head. I'm going to teach him how to go wherever he wants to get his shot off.''
The formula has worked for more than just the undrafted point guards, as O'Neal will note.
''Damon [Jones] got a new contract off me, Keyon [Dooling] got a new contract off me,'' O'Neal said. ``I just like guys that are very unselfish, guys that can keep everybody involved and guys that can hit a shot.''
Quinn figures those are two of his strengths, so he's hoping to show that off whenever he gets his chance.
''That's kind of who I am and who I've been in college, a guy that's going to have a good assist-to-turnover ratio, try not to make too many mistakes, be solid with the ball,'' Quinn said. ``I like to think I'm a pretty smart player and that I know who to get the ball to, whether it's Dorell Wright in summer league or Dwyane Wade and Shaq. Then I can go spot up, and I'm a capable shooter.''
So much for respecting the world champs. When the Heat arrived at shootaround Tuesday morning, the team was locked out of its own locker room. And it happened again when the Heat arrived for the game.
Riley unveiled a plan now that his Heat is the hunted team in the league this season.
''Camouflage,'' Riley joked. ``We're going to put it all over ourselves, right now, preseason. We're going to wait until it's real.''
The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
Ralph Waldo Emerson