Heat know Rashard Lewis is capable scorer if needed

Despite injuries in recent years, Rashard Lewis is a shooter that can score in bunches.

SAN ANTONIO — Trivia time. What current Miami Heat player other than Dwyane Wade has scored the most points in an NBA Finals game?
Ray Allen?
Wrong again.
Actually, it’s forward Rashard Lewis. While with Orlando in 2009, he had 34 points in Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers. While that’s nine less than Wade’s best effort in a Finals game, it’s two more than James has ever scored in 18 Finals outings.
“That’s a good trivia question,’’ Bosh said after failing in several tries to answer it following Miami’s shootaround Thursday morning in preparation for the evening Game 4 of the Finals against San Antonio at the AT&T Center.
Plenty has happened to Lewis, 33, since he averaged 18.4 points in the Magic’s 4-1 Finals loss four years ago to the Lakers. He’s had injury problems and is not close to being the player he was then.
But just in case Heat coach Erik Spoelstra needs to go deep into his bullpen with his team trailing the series 2-1, Lewis vows he’s ready. He said the experience of having played well in a Finals would help.
“Most definitely, I’ll be ready to go,’’ said Lewis, who shot 6 of 12 from 3-point range in his impressive Finals game. “I’m not going to score 34 points, but, yeah, I most definitely will be ready if my name is called.’’
It’s a long shot that would happen in a game that matters considering Lewis was not in the regular rotation during the second half of Miami’s regular season and has played sparingly in the postseason. But outside shooting has been a concern for the Heat lately, and Spoelstra is well aware of Lewis’ track record.
“Absolutely, I would never hesitate to play him,’’ Spoelstra said. “I remember in (the 2009) Finals, he was (Orlando’s) leading scorer.’’
Lewis averaged 17.7 points in the regular season in 2008-09 and made the second of his two career All-Star Game appearances. Since then, his average has dropped each year, to 14.1, to 11.7, to 7.8 and all the way down this season to 5.2.
But the 6-foot-10 Lewis, who signed a two-year, $2.75 million deal last summer with the Heat, said it’s now all about winning a first championship. Even though he's only played mop-up minutes in 10 of Miami’s 19 playoff games, Lewis said he’s in a fortunate position.
“Winning the title is the ultimate goal,’’ Lewis said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re playing or not. Everybody who’s a piece of this organization is a contributor one way or another. As long as you win, I don’t care if you’re playing or coaching or the water boy or the towel boy. A title is a title.’’
If the Heat can defend their championship and Lewis continues to watch from the bench, he wouldn’t be the first former multiple All-Star to win his initial ring in that matter. Mitch Richmond was a deep reserve for the Lakers when he finally got one for the Lakers in his final season of 2001-02. It was similar for Glenn Robinson when he got his only ring with San Antonio in his final season of 2004-05.
Either Lewis or Tracy McGrady soon will join them. McGrady, a seven-time All-Star, signed with the Spurs on April 16 and barely plays.
“I used to be one of those players that always thought if you’re on a team and you really don’t contribute (it isn’t the same),’’ McGrady said. “I asked this question to my teammates: ‘If we win the championship, should I feel like I deserve it?’ They’re like, ‘Hell, yeah, what you’ve been doing in your career, of course.’ ’’
While McGrady becomes a free agent this summer and likely will retire, Lewis plans to be back with the Heat next season regardless of what happens in this series. He holds a $1.4 million player option for 2013-14.
“I don’t plan on opting out,’’ Lewis said. “I plan on staying for another year, trying to make another run at it.’’
After all, Lewis made a commitment to the Heat last summer knowing there was no guarantee of consistent playing time on a very deep team.

“I think for a player with the type of success he’s had, he’s kept great perspective of where he’s been the last two years, dealing with injuries and playing on a team that didn’t make the playoffs,’’ Spoelstra said of Lewis, who spent the two previous seasons on bad Washington teams while battling knee problems. “He wanted to first become part of something special and this is really his first year back from two years of injury.’’
Spoelstra said Lewis’ attitude has been “tremendous.’’ Bosh agreed, saying Lewis always has a “smile when he comes to work’’ even though not playing much is “one of the hardest things he’s done in his career.’’

But Bosh would have no problem if Spoelstra were to look deep down the bench for Lewis. Bosh has battled Lewis regularly during the previous nine seasons.

“Rashard, he’s been doing this for a long time and I‘ve had to guard him,’’ Bosh said. “He’s one of the most difficult guys to guard because of his shooting ability, his catching and going and he can go down in the post. That ace card, we always have it in our back pocket.’’
Nobody would expect Lewis to turn back the clock consistently to his old days if called upon. But he does have some Finals numbers on his resume that are impressive.
Entering this postseason, Lewis’ 18.4 career Finals average had been higher than those put up by Bosh (16.7) and Allen (17.2). And entering these playoffs, Lewis’ career Finals 3-point percentage of 40.0 (16 of 40 overall) was barely below Allen’s 41.0 (34 of 83).
During his epic 2009 game against the Lakers, Lewis also had 11 rebounds and seven assists. That’s actually closer to a triple-double than even Wade has come in 20 career Finals games.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson

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