October 19, 2015
ATLANTA -- One of the biggest mysteries of the Heat's preseason is whether newcomer Gerald Green can become a steady defender. It is doubtless, though, that he gives the Heat more offensive firepower than any sub they turned to last season.
Green finished an explosive weekend by leading the Heat to a 101-92 preseason win over the Hawks at Philips Arena on Sunday and scoring a game-high 19 points. That followed a 21-points-in-23-minutes outburst to beat the Rockets the night before, further solidifying him as the team's best scoring option off the bench.
"I'm not really thinking about anything, just going out there and playing the way I'm normally used to playing," Green said. "I'm going up to guys and asking if I'm doing too much or this and that, and not one person on the team has told me that. They keep telling me, 'Keep doing what you're doing.'
"They tell me to keep being aggressive, so I'm just gonna keep trying to keep it together."
Green hit 6 of 13 shots, including 3 for 8 on 3-pointers, and added four rebounds, bringing his preseason accuracy to 42.3 percent overall and 37.9 percent from 3.
The Heat used four starters despite it being the second game of a back-to-back, and would have played all five if not for Hassan Whiteside twisting his left ankle the night before.
Whiteside downplayed the injury and was optimistic about being back for Wednesday's home game against the Wizards (8 p.m., Sun Sports).
Miami put Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng through an abbreviated workout against the Hawks with none playing more than 19 minutes and all sitting out the second half.
Bosh was the best of the group with 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting, three rebounds and a blocked shot. Dragic, Wade and Deng combined for 17 points while making 6 of 18 shots.
"We'll get to work," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
"They haven't logged many minutes together and that'll take some time, but the staples of really competing and showing some toughness defensively and sharing the game offensively, those will be the things we concentrate on this week."
Miami got reserves Josh McRoberts and Mario Chalmers back after each missed three games because of knee pain. Chris Andersen returned after missing the previous three days because of illness and started for Whiteside.
Udonis Haslem sat out after getting stitches below his left eye Saturday, and Miami rested Justise Winslow.
McRoberts continues to remind the Heat what they saw in him as a free agent last year . After missing nearly all of last season with a torn meniscus and other injuries, he has asserted himself as arguably Miami's most valuable bench player.
At 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, McRoberts has the body to work in the paint and the skill to play any position on the perimeter.
With Tim Hardaway Jr. guarding him on the wing early in the second quarter, he bounced a perfectly timed pass inside to Green cutting for a reverse layup.
James Ennis, who is battling to keep the roster spot he earned a year ago, played his best game of the preseason with 19 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes. He has a non-guaranteed contract this year and currently is on the outside of the playing rotation, behind Winslow.
Ennis was in despair just a few months ago as he struggled through a miserable summer league and wondered publicly if he would still be on the team this season, but he arrived for training camp with a renewed outlook.
His main competition for the final roster spot appears to be undrafted rookie Greg Whittington.
"You like to see young players show some grit and fight for it, and that's what he's doing right now," Spoelstra said of Ennis.
"He came off a summer where he didn't play to the standards where he wanted to play, but he came back to work."