Air Jordan: Heat big man Jordan Mickey stays ready, it pays off against Hornets

 

Miami Heat’s Jordan Mickey dunks on Charlotte Hornets’ Frank Kaminsky during Miami’s victory Friday in Charlotte. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Wayne Ellington couldn’t wait for the question from Fox Sports Florida’s Jason Jackson.

“And I want to say something about Jordan Mickey,” Ellington said while talking about the contributions of the Miami Heat bench during Friday’s win at Charlotte.

“How often do we see him in a game. … and he’s ready. That’s the ultimate compliment and that’s a pure professional right there to not play and then all of a sudden you get into a game and you contribute the way he did.”

With Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo in foul trouble, Mickey entered the game with 3:28 remaining in the first quarter. The 6-foot-8 big man had played in just six games this season, including a total of 17 minutes since starting two games the first week of the season.

Mickey remained on the floor for the rest of the half, finishing with eight points, seven rebounds an assist and a steal in 15:38 while shooting 4-of-6. Olynyk and Adebayo picked up one foul each the final three quarters so Mickey did not return. But his contribution was not overlooked.

Coach Erik Spoelstra called the 23-year-old a “Miami Heat type guy.”

“Behind the scenes only us have seen it,” Spoelstra said. “That’s a big-time credit to Jordan Mickey and his character. He develops, he works, all I see behind the scenes is him spending so much time with Juwan Howard and working on skill development, working on understanding our system, staying in unbelievable shape.”

Spoelstra said Mickey’s conditioning peaked this week.

“All of his testing has been phenomenal. That’s what you want in your young players. You never know when you’re going to get an opportunity. Sometimes it’s weeks. But when you do get your opportunity you have to make the most of it. And he was prepared.”

Mickey, Olynyk and Adebayo gave the Heat a solid center rotation (although Olynyk and Adebayo were on the court together for more than seven minutes of the second half) with Hassan Whiteside still nursing a bruised left knee. The three combined for 30 points and 17 rebounds on 13-of-21 shooting, more than enough to offset Dwight Howard and the Hornets’ big men. Howard finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds.

Mickey credited Heat coaches for the time they spend with him during practice.

“I’ve been doing stuff off the court, running with the strength and conditioning coach, trying to stay ready, just stay in shape for this opportunity,” he said following the game. “It all paid off today.

“Everything is different than game reps. But they do a great job of trying to simulate it when I work out with other players.”

Mickey knew once Adebayo picked up his second foul – after replacing Olynyk who was whistled for two quick ones – his time was coming.

“When both of them got in foul trouble usually it’s going to be me or Udonis (Haslem). He called my name,” Mickey said. “I have the mindset to always be ready. It paid off. My teammates fed confidence into me. They trusted me they got me some pretty good looks I played defense, so I’m happy.”

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