NBA

Heat return to home practice after preseason trip to China

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Associated Press
10/16/2012 5:45:35 PM
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MIAMI -- LeBron James was awake at 3:45 a.m. Dwyane Wade's dogs were unhappily roused from slumber at 4 a.m. by their bleary eyed owner. Udonis Haslem was responding to text messages at 5 a.m., which classifies as a rarity.

To a man, the Miami Heat raved about their trip to China.

Recovering from their trip to China, well, that's apparently another matter entirely.

After flying roughly 17,000 miles, playing three games in eight days starting with the preseason opener in Atlanta, holding practices and participating in more events than could be squeezed onto a double-sided itinerary, the Heat -- with many players acknowledging sleep deprivation -- went back to work on Tuesday, trying to get back into some semblance of a normal routine.

"Tuesday, right? Had to think about it though," James said. "I got up this morning about 3:45. Been up since. So, it is what it is. I'm not back just yet."

But he's trying, as was everyone else.

"It's crazy that we're back already," Wade said.

James was the last player in the gym Tuesday afternoon, taking dozens of jumpers -- he'd receive a pass, take a jab step, ball-fake, then shoot, over and over again -- as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and two assistants watched quietly from afar. "Short," James yelled at no one in particular after one jumper from the right wing, and the NBA's reigning MVP looked mildly surprised when that shot dropped with a swish.

"Ni hao," Spoelstra said after practice, using the Chinese phrase for 'hello.' "It's good to be back in our gym. We didn't waste any time getting back to work. The trip was a great trip from a lot of different levels, but there's nothing like coming back in your practice gym, putting the pads up, mouthguards in and getting after it. That's what we did today."

Miami played the Los Angeles Clippers twice in China, the second of those meetings Sunday in Shanghai. The Heat flew home after the game, landing Sunday evening in Miami after what Spoelstra estimated as a 16-hour flight. He gave the team Monday off, though several players were in the facility for workouts, treatment or both.

Or maybe it was because they just couldn't sleep.

"I'm having a tough time," Haslem said. "Just trying to get back in the right time. We'll get it. We'll figure it out."

Haslem heard plenty of theories on how to cope with other-side-of-the-world travel before Miami's trip to China. Stay on East Coast time. Stay up all night the first night. Sleep on the plane. Don't sleep on the plane. Take Vitamin D.

All may be valid. None of them really seemed to help the Heat co-captain.

"There's nothing you can really do," Haslem said. "I just couldn't figure it out. Happy to be home. It was a great trip, great experience, I loved the fans in China, they were real excited about basketball, they loved the Heat. So the experience overall was great. Just getting acclimated to the time, I lost like five pounds probably from not sleeping and eating on our regular schedule. Those were the things that were tough."

Spoelstra will gradually ease Miami back into what would be its regular schedule. Practice started at noon on Tuesday, he plans to begin at 11 a.m. on Wednesday and then a shootaround session would be around 10 a.m. Thursday -- with the Heat playing host to the Detroit Pistons that night. For the Clippers, the reacclimation process was perhaps even more accelerated, with their first post-China exhibition game scheduled for Wednesday against Utah.

"It was great to be there," James said.

Notes: Wade, still working his way back to full-strength after off-season knee surgery, said he's hopeful of playing Thursday against Detroit. ... Spoelstra said Mario Chalmers and Jarvis Vernado did not practice Tuesday while still dealing with minor injuries, and that Haslem and Joel Anthony were limited but improving as they work through injuries. ... James -- a comic book fan as a kid -- said he was surprised to learn that he's the subject of an upcoming Marvel comic called "King of the Rings," which he's seen but has not read. "I heard it's pretty good. I'll check it out, but I had nothing to do with it," James said. The comic book will be an insert into an upcoming edition of ESPN The Magazine.

LeBron James Ray Allen (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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