NEW YORK -- The eyes are drawn to the 3-pointers and the 4-of-5 accuracy from beyond the arc that helped fuel the Miami Heat's 98-91 victory Friday over the Memphis Grizzlies.
But when it comes to reserve forward Shane Battier, the numbers don't always do justice.
"Shane's plays don't show up in a modern box score," coach Erik Spoelstra said, as he turned his attention to Sunday's game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks, with the Heat looking to match the franchise record of 14 consecutive victories.
Battier certainly showed up when needed most against the Grizzlies.
First, as the shot clock was expiring with just over two minutes to play in an 85-85 tie, the 34-year-old defensive specialist found himself in the unlikely position of attacking the paint off the dribble. That's when he found center Chris Bosh for the layup that put the Heat ahead for good, one of only two assists for Battier in his 26 minutes.
"I haven't seen that before," Bosh joked of Battier creating off the dribble. "There's a first time for everything, but it was great. The shot clock was going down, we had a desperation situation and he made a great play."
The play even surprised Battier.
"It felt great, but I don't think anyone really wants me to expand my game at this point in my career," he said. "So I'll go back to the corner quietly."
Later, there was an offensive rebound with 1:28 to play and the Heat up three, allowing the Heat to control the ball for almost 48 seconds.
"Got us an extra possession, gave us some more life, took a little bit of the air out of their resolve," Spoelstra said.
It was one of only two rebounds for Battier, the other coming on the defensive glass with 18.3 seconds left and the Heat up four.
"That's what Shane does," Spoelstra said. "You define him as a winner and a player who simply makes winning plays."
Without the four 3-pointers, the Heat might not have made it to those waning minutes, with Battier now 32 of 52 on 3-pointers over his last 10 appearances, with at least one in 14 straight appearances. But it was in those waning minutes that the ultimate payoff was provided.
"Certainly he made the big threes," Spoelstra said, "but he had that one drive, put the ball on the floor and was able to dump it down to Chris. He just finds different ways.
"The majority of his plays defensively, the collisions, the loose balls, the block outs, the overwhelming majority of Shane's plays don't show up in a modern box score."
Or, as LeBron James said, "every shot that he made, every play that he made, we needed it."
The effort came after Battier was held out of Wednesday's victory over the Sacramento Kings to rest a sore hamstring, leaving him with four days off before Friday's game.
The result? "A rested, springy, spry Shane Battier," he quipped.
One ready for the big moments in a big game, as might again prove needed Sunday against the Knicks.
"It's about doing your role," he said. "I've done that my entire career. Be in the right spot, good things happen. Play hard and keep grinding. We just needed a few plays to break it open.
"We've made those plays the entire year, but it's magnified when the stakes are higher."
How much did the Heat want Juwan Howard's veteran presence back in their locker room for another championship drive?
Enough that to clear the room needed to open the roster spot utilized to sign Howard to a 10-day contract Saturday, they traded Dexter Pittman, a second-round pick and $100,000 last week to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The veteran power forward, who has been around the team almost the entire season in what was termed an undefined management role, brings the Heat back to the NBA maximum of 15 players.
Howard has spent most of the season watching Heat home games from the management box alongside former Heat player Alonzo Mourning, while working behind the scenes to remain in basketball shape, having recently turned 40.
Howard barely played for the Heat last season in securing his first championship ring, better known for his locker-room presence and bodyguard attitude around the team's stars.
Howard becomes the third oldest player in the NBA, behind New York Knicks center Kurt Thomas and Los Angeles Clippers forward Grant Hill.
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