Updated: November 8, 2012, 3:51 AM ET

1. Lewis Healthy, Plays Some Old-School Jams

By Israel Gutierrez
ESPN.com

MIAMI -- Rashard Lewis endured the jokes during his 13-point, two-dunk performance Wednesday night.

He even had to stand and listen after the game, when his locker room neighbor Chris Bosh continued the onslaught.

"I haven't seen him dunk twice since high school," Bosh said, making sure Lewis heard the jab. "So, good night."

Rashard Lewis
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireRashard Lewis, spry enough to dunk again.

To Lewis, though, the dunks -- one coming off a pump fake and drive and the second off a steal and breakaway -- weren't strictly joke material.

Not when he could do nothing of the sort during his time in Washington. Not after undergoing OssaTron treatment in the offseason to address his quadriceps tendinitis and needing two months to recover.

So Lewis actually dedicated his dunks to a particular group of Heat employees: the training staff.

"He told us the dunks were for us," Heat head athletic trainer Jay Sabol said.

When Lewis signed with the Heat last July, the idea was he would fit in perfectly with a team that leans on LeBron James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade inside. That would, ideally, leave Lewis to knock down open threes.

The problem was, there was no certainty Lewis would recover from the quad tendinitis that temporarily crippled his career. Lewis says he never really worked out his legs as much as he did his upper body. He wanted "that beach body," he joked after the Heat beat Brooklyn 103-73, so his lower body became something of an afterthought.

That's why the tendinitis cropped up after more than a decade in the league. And despite several opinions from doctors in different cities, and fighting off the idea of surgery (there was no structural damage, so he didn't want to go under the knife), Lewis just couldn't resolve the issue.

So a few days after signing with Miami, Lewis underwent the OssaTron treatment, which sends powerful sound waves into the tissue and breaks up inflammation, generating new tissue growth. Wade underwent the same treatment late in the 2007-08 season.

That required 30 days of no activity, and at least another month of rehabilitation.

Lewis wasn't able to return to on-court work until a few days before Heat training camp. That first pickup game on the Heat practice court was hardly encouraging.

"I was tired as hell," Lewis said. "Couldn't make a shot, couldn't get my legs under me. It was frustrating."

It was obvious that Lewis, trying to revive his career as a member of the defending champions, was putting immense pressure on himself.

"I saw it on his face," Wade said. "And coming to a new place, too, you want to show that you're worthy of being here. But he stayed with it.

"It's not easy to come in here and figure out your role. He's figured it out quicker than we expected. We know he can knock down big shots. He's done it his whole career. To see that happening this early, it makes us real excited about it."

Lewis considers himself ahead of schedule, in large part because of the persistence of the Heat training staff.

Lewis wasn't the most flexible of players, but the Heat staff stressed the importance of it -- Ray Allen recently joked he hasn't stretched this much in his entire career -- and it has helped.

To be dunking the ball twice in a November game, while worthy of a joke or two, is no laughing matter for Lewis.

"Playing in Washington, it was tough for me to even get any lift on my jump shot," he said. "That just lets you know how good I'm feeling."

That said, don't expect a lot of thunder from Lewis in the near future.

"I told them that's it for the month," he joked.

Spoelstra wouldn't mind that, actually.

Patience has worked well so far for Lewis, and the Heat coach doesn't want his key reserve getting ahead of himself now that it's obvious he can fit in well with this group.

"We really thought big picture with Rashard," Spoelstra said. "I'm not putting a lot of pressure on it.

"Really, it's two or three months down the line before we'll really see him in the type of rhythm like he was when he was playing very well in Orlando."

Until then, this version of Lewis is helping the Heat just fine.

Though he had some trouble staying in front of a few Knicks players during the Heat's lone loss of the season, Lewis hasn't been a defensive liability.

It helps that this defensive system is quite similar to the one Stan Van Gundy taught in Orlando.

Offensively, he's shooting 54.5 percent from the floor, including a 47 percent clip from three-point range.

If Lewis doesn't dunk again this season, the Heat will still take that kind of offensive efficiency.

"I don't know why people sag off him, but he's open every time, and he's gonna shoot it," Bosh said. "Plain and simple."

Dimes past: Oct. 30 | 31 | Nov. 1 | 2-3 | 4 | 5 | 6

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