While most people were sound asleep stateside early Sunday morning, the Miami Heat were busy playing the Los Angeles Clippers in Shanghai. With Miami's Big Three on the floor together only for a few minutes, the Heat lost 99-89 as Chris Paul made his preseason debut.
Here are five takeaways from the post-midnight madness:
1. LeBron James took the night off.
Well, not really. James played, but not up to his standards. It’s hard to imagine a Heat game where James is reduced to an afterthought, but that was mostly the case in this preseason affair. Aside from an early fast-break lob to Dwyane Wade, James played on the periphery and let others do the talking.
James had a series of athletic steals on the defensive end, including an interception of a Blake Griffin alley-oop, but James wasn’t as assertive on offense. That’s not a bad thing for the Heat, considering he’s probably the team’s purest point guard. If this were a regular-season game, we’d probably see a different James. And perhaps a different outcome.
Also, this tweet, from the night before, might have something to do with his occasional deferential play.
Just posted a photo instagr.am/p/QsiEZdCTNX/
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 12, 2012
2. Up-and-down night for Bosh
Chris Bosh opened the game at his best, with a patented 18-foot jumper that splashed through the net. This has been a common sight over the past few days: Bosh setting up for a jumper while his defender, DeAndre Jordan, frantically flies out to the perimeter. Stretching the floor remains one of Bosh’s biggest responsibilities for this team, but that’s not the only place the Heat will need him this season.
They need him to play bigger in the paint than he did on Sunday. While Bosh certainly did his job to drag Jordan out of the paint on offense, Jordan had a field day in the paint on the other end. Jordan was a perfect eight for eight from the floor in the game and routinely had his way underneath the rim against Bosh. Jordan can scrape the arena ceiling, but Bosh has to make it tougher for bigs to get inside position.
3. Dwyane Wade looks to be just fine
In his second preseason action because of offseason knee surgery, Wade showed that he can still get up. First, he caught a lob from Wade in transition from James and flushed it down with two hands. Then another dunk shortly thereafter.
And that was it. Wade only played eight minutes in this game, but his night wasn’t cut off because of injury. After playing 25 minutes on Wednesday, Wade probably could have used an abbreviated outing this time around. The Heat have two weeks before the season opener so there’s no reason to push things now. Two dunks in eight minutes is a good ratio.
4. Ray Allen missed all five of his 3-point tries
Stock up on canned goods, folks. The Mayans may have been onto something.
5. Josh Harrellson or Mickell Gladness? That’s the big question.
The Heat have a handful of big men vying for two open roster spots, maybe three if you count Dexter Pittman’s slot. Mickell Gladness was the first big off the bench to replace Chris Bosh (it’s a sign!), but Josh Harrellson delivered the most memorable performance. It didn’t help when Gladness was blocked by 39-year-old Grant Hill underneath the basket in the second quarter. Harrellson replaced him shortly thereafter and filled up the box score.
We saw a new side of Harrellson in this one. He caught a great feed from Allen and finished on the move in traffic. Then, the rarest of Harrellson sights: a post-up move. He caught the ball on the right block, shook right and Odom inexplicably decided to wrap his arm around Harrellson’s barrel waist while Harrellson dropped a turnaround hook shot. And-one. To rub salt in the wound, Odom tried to take Harrellson off the dribble on the other end, but Harrellson swatted his shot into the first row.
It wasn't all good things for Harrellson, though. He tried to dunk on a fast break late in the fourth quarter, but Ryan Hollins literally pinned the ball to the backboard. The ball got stuck between the rim and the backboard. Harrellson lost the resulting jump ball to Hollins.
Preseason basketball, everyone.