Heat's Ray Allen healthy, helpful in win over Hawks
MIAMI -- After missing three games due to a virus, Ray Allen began the week saying he felt good but wouldn't know how good until playing in a game.
That was because, the guard said, until running up and down the floor amid the crowd's energy and opponent's forces a player does not know how he stands.
Well, Allen stood tall on Tuesday night, when he scored 17 points in a reserve role to help the Miami Heat defeat the Atlanta Hawks 104-88 at American Airlines Arena.
Allen hit 5 of 10 shots (3 of 6 from behind the arc) in 24 minutes, 40 seconds and he scored Miami's first 12 points of the fourth quarter, which the Heat started with a 9-point lead and then refused to let Atlanta to get back in the game.
Allen's contributions were especially helpful considering the Heat played without Dwyane Wade, who sat to rest his knees.
"It didn't feel like I had been out for three games, I just got in and had a great rhythm," said Allen, ill for wins against Milwaukee, Dallas and at Charlotte.
"I just made sure when I got into the game, you kind of pay attention from a defensive perspective and then you'll find a flow offensively and find a way to get easy baskets. And then it just opens up for. It's important not to press and try to look for opportunities, you just let them come to you."
Allen was the first Miami sub off the bench, entering for James Jones with 4:30 left in the first quarter. It was the first time the 18-year veteran played since scoring 5 points in a loss to Boston on Nov. 9 -- the Heat's only defeat in the past eight games.
He saw the next three games from his home, a place that seemed strange to him while watching his teammates.
"Being in this job so long, you develop such a routine of consistency that it's just muscle memory -- that's why you do it" Allen said after Monday's practice. "You don't think about it, you just do it. It's your job and you become very good at it.
"That's why we always say, 'Don't get sick in this job,' because running up and down the floor is tough, and building that routine back. (But) watching the game on TV is odd, too, because you're watching everything that's going on. But I'm a good couch potato, too ... a couch quarterback, I should say."
Allen actually looked like a quarterback at times on Tuesday night, when he was on the floor in Wade's place for stints with fellow reserves Rashard Lewis, Michael Beasley, Chris Andersen and Norris Cole.
"It was great but we have so much talent coming off the bench, you try not to overdo it," Allen said. "We don't have to do too much dribbling, we're in positions where you take one dribble, there's an action created and someone's open or you have a shot."
In saying all members of the team's reserve corps express encouragement vocally, coach Erik Spoelstra admitted: "Ray is a natural leader from that regard ... (he) has tremendous amount of experience and his message is pure."
The man forever known around Miami for sinking the 3-pointer to force overtime in 2013 NBA Finals Game 6 against San Antonio was glad to get back to normal on Tuesday.
"There's a natural rhythm to my day every day," Allen said. "You just get up and you do the same thing. You go downstairs and eat, then you get in the car and go to practice.
"I was doing that, but my body was telling me not to go the garage but to go back upstairs."
Fortunately for the Heat, it didn't tell him that Tuesday.
Charlie McCarthy can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas