Notes from a night of watching preseason hoops
Turns out more than just the Miami Heat played last night.
There were eight games on the docket and while results don’t matter things like how players looked and took advantage of opportunities do. Here are a few notes from a night of flipping through League Pass:
* There was a time just a few years ago where Yao Ming used to dominate Dwight Howard head to head. Last night Howard looked in midseason form and Yao Ming looked understandably rusty and a step slow. Yao played 12 minutes and left with a very slight limp. He looked like there is still a long way to go.
* In the early going the Heat really did run as promised, pushing the ball at every opportunity, getting their superior athletes out in open space. That didn’t translate all game -- they had 88 possessions overall, right about their season average last year near the bottom of the league in pace -- but the first unit seemed to move more quickly. They need to run, they have a couple guys who aren’t bad finishers.
* Yi Jianlian worked with David Thorpe this summer and he told me to look out for the star of the Chinese national team, that improved confidence, a few tweaks to his game and this system in Washington could be good for him. It looked it early on, Yi hit three of his first five, all from the deep midrange (15 or more out). By the end of the night he had 11 points on 5-11 shooting (3-7 from the outside). Just something to watch.
* Flip Saunders started John Wall, Kirk Hinrich and Gilbert Arenas -- a three-guard lineup in Washington. Interesting, we’ll see if that continues. That will create some matchup problems -- and be really tough when the Wizards have to match up on small forwards like Paul Pierce or LeBron. Or frankly half the league.
* Chris Douglas-Roberts fouled out in three quarters of a preseason game. Well done sir.
* DeMarcus Cousins debut: 16 points and 16 rebounds.
* Al-Farouq Aminu’s debut, less impressive: one point, four turnovers, no rebounds and fouled out in 18 minutes.
* Rudy Fernandez 5 of 6 from three... anybody want to trade for him?