He opened the season as somewhat of a revelation, to a degree more of a free-agent surprise than Ray Allen. He followed with consistent rotation minutes and even four starts.
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Now? Now crickets, not a single minute in the last six games, only 10 in the last 10.
This for a player who played double-digit minutes in 14 of his first 15 appearances.
Yet even as spectator, Miami Heat forward Rashard Lewis says he has no issue playing the good soldier in a winning situation, after coming from something far less with the Washington Wizards.
"It's something I signed up for," the 3-point specialist said. "I know there's a lot of talent on this team. They pretty much have the same team they won a championship with.
"Here, you've just got to basically wait your turn. I played earlier in the year, but I'm sure my name will be called again. I just got to be ready to go."
Yet even when Ray Allen sat out last week against the Charlotte Bobcats with a bruised shoulder, it was seldom-used James Jones who received 18 minutes, while Lewis never left the bench.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said recently that the Heat have three players stuck at the end of the rotation that could be playing regular minutes elsewhere, with Lewis, Jones and Josh Harrellson fitting that description.
But with the recent commitment to a defensive upgrade, the three fail to provide what the likes of Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier and Joel Anthony can offer.
"I'm not offended at all," Lewis said of some equating the Heat's recent defensive upgrade with his removal from the rotation. "We've got a lot of guys on this team that could play. If you look around the locker room, I think everybody can play a lot of minutes or even start on another team."
Still, when another forward was injected into the mix Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks when Udonis Haslem sat out with neck pain, it was Harrellson who got the opportunity, utilized for 18 minutes.
"We're here to win ballgames," Lewis said. "We're here to win a championship. That's what I'm here to do."
While Anthony has been added to the mix almost solely for his defensive prowess, the ball has been moving through his hands more often than in some previous seasons.
While Anthony still tends to treat the ball as a live grenade, he said he is appreciative that teammates view him as a viable passing option.
"We're trying to find a way to get more opportunities within the offense," he said of Spoelstra's preference to have all five players on the court live in the offense. "I'm trying to be more available for the ball in situations when I can do it."
He closed Monday's 112-110 overtime victory over the Orlando Magic with a season-high eight points, his five free throws one more than he had attempted in his previous 24 appearances combined.
"I'm not always going to get it, obviously, but definitely put myself in a position where if there's an opportunity I can capitalize on it," he said of getting the ball in the post.
That trust factor even has teammates attempting alley-oop passes, although the results aren't always artistic.
"If I'm not putting myself in position to be available, then I'm not going to have as much confidence in putting those shots up," he said. "I'm just trying to be more conscious of it, to give myself to get more opportunities. It's all about the opportunities I put myself in to help my teammates."
LeBron James closed December averaging 27.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game while making 55 percent of his shots. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only two other players in NBA history reached all those levels in a calendar month when they played at least 10 games: Wilt Chamberlain in February 1967 and Larry Bird in March 1987.
James has scored at least 20 points in each of the Heat's first 29 games, the second-longest streak since the 1976 ABA-NBA merger to George Gervin 's run of 45 in a row to open 1981-82.
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