OKLAHOMA CITY – Josh Richardson was not sure how his right knee would respond in his first game since partially tearing the MCL eight weeks ago. So he took the cautious approach.
After five early minutes Richardson returned late in the second quarter and again in the second half.
He passed the test.
“I was fine,” Richardson said. “I told Spo going into halftime that I felt good when I was playing. He took me out, I was fine.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra was more than pleased with Richardson’s 12 scoreless minutes (he missed all four shots) that included two turnovers and two fouls.
“That’s a big win,” Spoelstra said.
Richardson said the next step is to trust his knee.
“It’s my first time playing,” he said. “It’s my second time playing live (including Thursday’s practice) since I got hurt. So mentally it’s trusting it. I’ve got to find a rhythm, getting back in the flow of the game.
“It’s tough to get into a rhythm. But my teammates were good, encouraging me the whole game and I’m not getting down on anything. So I’m still good.”
Expect a much more aggressive Richardson Monday in Oklahoma City, a game in which he, and the rest of the Heat guards, will be tested by triple-double machine Russell Westbrook.
“I was being patient with myself,” Richardson said about Friday, “just not forcing it, letting the game come to me at first and just figuring it out.”
Justise Winslow, for one, was happy to see his classmate return. The two will be linked as the Heat’s lone picks in the 2015 draft; Winslow in the first round, Richardson in the second.
“I loved it,” he said “Just to have him out there, his energy. One thing you can count on, he’s going to get his rhythm, he’s going to get his feel back as he keeps playing but it was great having my co-partner in crime out there.”