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Dragic getting ready for the season, by not playing
By TIM REYNOLDS
MIAMI (AP) Goran Dragic usually needs to play in preseason games to get ready for the season.
This year, the Miami point guard needed to not play.
It has been a preseason like none other for Dragic, who spent his summer carrying his native Slovenia to its first European championship and winning MVP honors at that tournament. But it also meant Dragic came back to Miami late last month worn down by the physically and mentally spent from the grind of that tournament, so Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decided to basically not use his starter for most of the preseason.
Dragic didn't like the idea at first. He knows now that it was the right move.
"I feel like my head is clearing," Dragic said Wednesday before sitting out Miami's home preseason game against the Washington Wizards. "I'm OK. Physically, I feel great. Mentally, I'm hungry again for basketball. That's what we want to achieve and that's the feeling we want for that first game."
Dragic hasn't officially been ruled out for Miami's preseason finale in Kansas City on Friday against Philadelphia, but he isn't likely to play.
"The big key is I want him feeling fresh, peaking by Game 1," Spoelstra said. "He's in great shape, great spirits and we'll just keep moving forward."
Dragic, Miami's leading scorer last season at just over 20 points per game, expects to be full-go when Miami's regular season starts Wednesday in Orlando. He said Spoelstra recognized how much the European title run - the emotional toll if nothing else - took out of him.
"I always want to practice and play," Dragic said. "But sometimes your body or your head doesn't allow you to do that. He's good at reading players. He knows what you need. Maybe he saw something that probably was not hard to see. So I crashed a little bit, came back and now it's on to a new goal here in Miami."
A look at Wednesday's preseason games:
CELTICS 108, HORNETS 100
HORNETS: Michael Carter-Williams (knee) will not be ready for the regular season opener, coach Steve Clifford said. Nic Batum (elbow), Jeremy Lamb (groin) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (personal) did not play. Rookie Dwayne Bacon went 4 for 4 on 3-pointers, accounting for all 12 of his points.
UP NEXT: Boston (4-0) opens the regular season against Cleveland on Tuesday. Charlotte (1-3) hosts Dallas on Friday.
HEAT 117, WIZARDS 115
Jordan Mickey's 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left gave Miami the win.
UP NEXT: Washington (3-1) visits New York on Friday. Miami (3-2) plays Philadelphia in Kansas City, Missouri on Friday.
76ERS 133, NETS 114
D'Angelo Russell scored 24 for Brooklyn in its preseason finale.
76ERS: J.J. Redick had 18 points for Philadelphia, which held a 52-37 rebounding edge. ... No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz didn't play.
NETS: Caris Levert scored 16 and Jeremy Lin added 14 for the Nets, who led by 10 early - then got outscored by 35 points over the rest of the half, and eventually trailed by 36.
UP NEXT: Philadelphia (1-3) meets Miami in Kansas City, Missouri on Friday. Brooklyn (3-1) opens the regular season Oct. 18 at Indiana.
ROCKETS 101, GRIZZLIES 89
James Harden shot only 2 for 13, missing all eight of his 3-point tries, but scored 18 points to lead Houston.
ROCKETS: Chris Paul returned from right shoulder soreness, and shot 3 for 12. ... The Rockets were 14 of 45 from 3-point range, with Eric Gordon alone going 2 for 12.
UP NEXT: Houston (4-0) hosts San Antonio on Friday. Memphis (2-2) hosts New Orleans on Friday.
TRAIL BLAZERS 113, SUNS 104
Portland's Caleb Swanigan and Phoenix's Alex Len were ejected after scuffling under the basket with 9:33 remaining. They got tangled while getting in rebound position, and Len then gave Swanigan a shove in the back before they were separated.
UP NEXT: Portland (4-1) hosts Maccabi Haifa on Friday. Phoenix (1-3) hosts the Brisbane Bullets on Friday.
Updated October 12, 2017