Gutierrez: Bosh saves best for Christmas Day spotlight

MIAMI — At the start of his sixth consecutive Christmas Day game, Chris Bosh looked like he had set a record for shots attempts (and possibly misses) on this holiday.

But by the end, a triumphant Bosh was high-fiving Miami Heat teammate Justise Winslow, with the rookie staring at his right hand for seconds afterward like a starstruck child (more on that later).

In a matchup with Anthony Davis, one of the game’s best and most dynamic stars, Bosh reminded us that he remains in that same category — even if it’s not widely recognized.

“He doesn’t have the personality where he cares about being a superstar anyway,” Dwyane Wade said of Bosh, who saved the Heat from a second straight disappointing home loss with 30 points and 10 rebounds in an overtime win. “What’s important to this team is that we understand it and we all know it.

“He’s one of the best basketball players in the world. He may not sell a lot of jerseys, like some guys, but it doesn’t matter to him. He enjoys being great at the game, and we enjoy him being great.”

Part of the reason Bosh’s status in the league is even questioned is what’s perceived as a lack of aggressiveness offensively.

That wasn’t a problem on Friday at AmericanAirlines Arena. The 10-time All-Star had taken six shots, three of them from distance, and added a pair of free throws less than five minutes into the game. Bosh entered Friday averaging 13.2 field goal attempts and 4.1 attempts from deep per game.

Realistically, Bosh could crank up the volume on shot attempts any time he wants in this Heat offense.

He regularly finds himself with just enough time to shoot when he spots open for a pick-and-pop play. Normally, though, Bosh encourages ball movement by only taking great shots out of that initial pick-and-roll action.

On Friday, however, the Pelicans were practically encouraging him to shoot it, and the sneaky, ultracompetitive Bosh was more than happy to play into the Pelicans’ strategy and fire away.

“We said, ‘OK, if they are going to play us like that, we are going to play pick-and-roll and give Chris open looks,’ and we did it,” Heat point guard Goran Dragic said. “He took 25 shots, but those were open shots we need him to take.”

The problem was, Bosh wasn’t making those open looks, missing seven of his first nine shots, keeping a defensively challenged Pelicans team in the game and contributing to the Heat’s hideous 36.4 percent shooting at halftime.

But as Davis was piling up the stats (29 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, four steals, three blocks), Bosh was locked into the matchup against Davis, hoping for his turn to respond to the New Orleans superstar.

Bosh missed a 10-footer that could have won the game in regulation, but he added seven points in overtime to surpass Davis in scoring.

Bosh didn’t necessarily outplay Davis. But they certainly hung out on the same level Friday.

“He’s pretty good,” Bosh said of Davis. “They go to him quite a bit. He was getting into the paint and making very quick moves. I was just trying my best to stay in front of him.

“He was shooting in my face all night and making quite a bit of them. So I wanted to return the favor. In a matchup like that, I take it very seriously. Christmas Day, against one of the best in the league, I’m going to rise to the occasion.”

Bosh also happens to be one of the more unique personalities in the game. So when he says his shots came in the flow of the game, then darts his eyes in the opposite direction, you know he means something quite different.

Wade said it is noticeable when Bosh has decided to play like the aggressive scorer Heat fans want him to be. And he doesn’t mind one bit.

“Most of his shots were open,” Wade said. “In this game, if you’re a 4 man, you lick your chops, because you’re going to get some open looks. I think all of us are surprised if he misses three in a row.”

Bosh certainly seemed to be enjoying himself as he was letting it fly on this day. He wore a wireless microphone for the ESPN broadcast during the game, and he was heard playfully trash-talking Anthony Davis. Or sometimes, just talking. Bosh said Davis’ responses left a little to be desired.

“He’s a little younger, so he’ll get more clever,” Bosh said. “That’s like me: I used to not say anything; now I can’t stop talking.”

As for Winslow and his high-five routine, well, it’s not really what people thought it was. Yes, he was impressed with his Bosh’s performance. But the staring at the hand thing? Well, let’s just say Winslow and Bosh might eventually be teammates in the quirkiness hall of fame, should some genius ever decide to create one.

It’s something of a running joke between the Heat left-handers. But do they high-five with the left hand? Of course not.

“High-fiving with the left is weird,” Bosh said.

So what’s the point of staring at your right hand after high-fiving a lefty?

Bosh’s response to Winslow was possibly better than his response to Davis on the court: “You’re weird, dude.”

That was your quick glance into the life of Heat lefties, which was much more pleasant than the look we got of the Pelicans in the postgame locker room.

“He’s one of the best basketball players in the world. He may not sell a lot of jerseys, like some guys, but it doesn’t matter to him. He enjoys being great at the game, and we enjoy him being great.”

Dwyane Wade on Heat teammate Chris Bosh

New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry had been furious with guard Tyreke Evans several times during the game, but most notably for not starting a play early enough in one possession that led to a shot-clock violation — and at the end of regulation, when the Pelicans called consecutive timeouts because Evans was beginning the play on the wrong side of the floor after the first time out.

After the game, Gentry intimated that once Jrue Holiday‘s minutes restriction is lifted in January, Evans won’t see many crunch-time minutes.

“In a couple of weeks — a week or so — that’ll go away,” Gentry said.

As Davis explained, “When you don’t know the plays and you mess up, then you come back and [the defense] takes you out of [the play], they know what set you’re in. We can’t afford to come out of timeouts not knowing where to go or what we gotta do.”

It was not exactly the experience Davis wanted in his first Christmas game, although we’ll likely remember the dashes of spectacular he brought to the day’s opening game, like the devastating block of a Bosh two-hand dunk attempt.

But it was Bosh who elevated his team just enough for a victory.

The selectively aggressive superstar chose this holiday to play like one for everyone to see.

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