The Big Three were together for merely three minutes. LeBron James and Chris Bosh more than picked up the slack after Dwyane Wade’s preseason came to a quick end.
And with that, this era for the Miami Heat got off to a promising, but not perfect, start.
James and Bosh combined for 38 points in their Miami debuts, and the Heat beat the Detroit Pistons, 105-89, in the preseason opener for both teams last night at American Airlines Arena.
Still, the meaningless game may have major significance for Miami, after Wade limped off just 3:17 into the game with a strained right hamstring. He went into the locker room shortly afterward and did not return. Coach Erik Spoelstra said the injury wasn’t serious, and Wade will be re-evaluated in about a week.
Clearly, the Heat will not rush Wade back, not with three weeks until games count.
“Like I told him, if we’re going to have an injury, I’d rather have it now than to have it when we really get started,’’ James said.
Bosh had 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting. James, the two-time reigning MVP who brought his championship pursuit from Cleveland this summer, added 18, and the Heat weren’t challenged after running out to a 20-point lead at halftime.
“I like the fact that we got better tonight,’’ James said. “We didn’t waste an opportunity to get better. That’s what it’s about.’’
By the final buzzer, most of the crowd was long gone. Most came to see the opening moments of this trio’s time together, and the fanfare was the sort simply not seen at most preseason games.
“The season,’’ James said, “is back.’’
And when Wade left, James just took over.
He put much of his repertoire on display in the early going: no-look passes, drives to the rim, 3-pointers, even playing some point guard in the first quarter. It wasn’t always perfect — he airballed one try from beyond the arc and never saw a wide-open Bosh under the basket on another possession.
Outside, parking lots that used to charge $10 were asking $40. Long lines of fans waited to get in, some wearing James, Wade, and Bosh Heat jerseys, with a few wearing James’s old No. 23 from Cleveland.
The Pistons have decided to sell the team to Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, a person involved with the process said yesterday, and that the sides were negotiating financial terms.
Forbes last year valued the team at $479 million, but a weak economy, the threat of an NBA lockout next year, and a motivated seller — Karen Davidson — likely mean the price is lower.
An Ilitch Holdings spokeswoman said the organization signed a nondisclosure agreement this year and cannot comment. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, former Pistons star, said yesterday, “The deal is not done, but we remain optimistic.’’