So what do you do when the opponent is poised to body slam you?
You go tag team.
No, the Miami Heat’s approach to their power rotation hardly is typical. There is no definitive center, no robo-rebounder, no hulking presence.
But there are options, with Thursday night’s 99-90 victory over Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and the Los Angeles Lakers the perfect example.
Foul trouble limited Udonis Haslem to 11 minutes, 32 seconds, yet he still found his way to seven rebounds, matching LeBron James’ team high.
Joel Anthony couldn’t find the bottom of the net, going without a shot from the field in his 19 minutes and shooting 1-of-4 from the foul line, but his defensive activity essentially blew up any Lakers’ attempt at establishing their pick-and-roll offense.
And while Shane Battier is in the midst of a career shooting slump, his 0-for-4 on Thursday dropping him to 0-for-15 from the field in his last four appearances and 4-for-33 in his last eight, he maximized his six fouls to help produce what turned into Howard’s 5-of-13 from the line.
So while an argument, by the numbers, could be made that the Heat power rotation came up short, especially when also factoring in Chris Bosh’s 3-of-10 from the field, those involved in the tag team know better.
“We know we’re misunderstood,” Battier said with a smile as the Heat headed home for a five-day break following their 3-3 trip over two weeks. “Our teammates appreciate what we do. That’s all that matters.”
Thursday, even with Howard closing with 13 points and 16 rebounds, all the pieces of the Heat’s power rotation mattered.
“There were a lot of guys who contributed to that, and we had to go deep into our rotation, obviously,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So we didn’t necessarily always match up big. Shane was battling against Gasol, LeBron was a few possessions. Then Rashard (Lewis) gave us some big minutes there.”
While the focus of Thursday’s victory was James’ season-high 39 points and Dwyane Wade’s 27, it was the lunch-bucket inside crew that did the dirty work.
“On any given night it’s somebody different,” Haslem said. “We’ve all got to throw our bodies around, challenge shots at the rim, and box out and rebound.”
Considering Howard was limited to just one blocked shot, the Lakers’ lone block, it could be argued that the Heat power rotation was more disruptive.
Hawks guard injures knee
Lou Williams, the Atlanta Hawks’ third-leading scorer, will miss the remainder of the season with a right knee injury.
The Hawks announced before Saturday night’s game against San Antonio that Williams tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in Friday night’s game at Brooklyn. The tear was found when Williams was examined on Saturday by Dr. Michael Bernot in Atlanta.
Williams, a guard in his first season with the Hawks, is averaging 14.1 points.
Bulls’ Deng misses game
Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng missed Saturday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies with a sore right hamstring. Deng, averaging a team-high 17.4 points, tried to play through the injury Friday at Boston but scored a season-low three points on 1-of-6 shooting before aggravating the injury and exiting late in the third quarter.