MIAMI -- Searching for a spark, Pat Riley has shaken up the Miami Heat's starting lineup.
Antoine Walker and Gary Payton were both on the bench to start
the Heat's game against the Orlando Magic on Friday night, getting
replaced by Dorell Wright and Jason Kapono -- who've combined to
make four starts in their first 95 games in Heat uniforms.
Walker has had a dismal start to the season, with his scoring
(10.6), rebounds (4.1), field-goal shooting (.380), free-throw
shooting (.357) and 3-point shooting (.238) all putting him on pace for career lows.
Payton has also struggled, averaging a mere 7.7 points and 2.6
assists on 34.6 percent shooting in the first 11 games. The
defending NBA champions got off to a 4-7 start, albeit playing most
games without starting center Shaquille O'Neal and starting point guard Jason Williams.
"I don't like change. I've never liked it," Riley said. "I've
made a lot of trades here, but once I put a team together, I really
hate change. I like to have a rotation that you can depend on every
night, especially a starting rotation that hits the floor every
night. That isn't the case for us this year because of the injuries
and everything. And what I've put out there is just not acceptable as a unit."
With Payton out, Dwyane Wade started at point guard for the
Heat, with Kapono at shooting guard and Wright at small forward.
Udonis Haslem was in his customary spot at power forward, and
Alonzo Mourning remained at center.
Already this season, Miami has lost five games by at least 15
points -- most recently Wednesday night, a 20-point loss at San
Antonio. After that game, Riley said the Heat's effort went from
"disgusting to discouraging to despicable," and many players agreed.
As such, a lineup change wasn't totally unexpected.
"Sometimes you have to go in another direction for a while," Riley said.
The Heat were without O'Neal (knee surgery), James Posey (sore
calf) and Williams (recovering from knee surgery). Riley said
Williams will play Saturday when the Heat are at Charlotte.
"He wanted to play tonight. I want him for tomorrow," Riley
said. "I don't think I'll be able to play him on back-to-backs, so
thinking that we're at home and maybe if we showed some passion and
some energy we might be able to win and have him for tomorrow night
on the road. At least, that's my thinking."