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Secondary assists important to Heat

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Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 8:38 p.m.

MIAMI — There's nary a pair of skates visible in the Miami Heat locker room, no bucket of pucks in the practice facility and no Zamboni following the team around, either.

Still, there's at least one hockey principle that's in the mind of the reigning NBA champions so far this season.

With emphasis on ball movement, the Heat are currently into what's known as “hockey assists” — essentially, the pass that sets up the pass that sets up the score.

In hockey, it's typical for two players to be credited with having passes to set up a goal, and while it's hardly an NBA statistic, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is working it into his team's repertoire as well.

“If anything, it's a compliment to the game of hockey,” Heat center Joel Anthony said. “We're recognizing the different types of ways they reward players for making the extra pass. Hockey acknowledges it a lot more. There's no stat for it in basketball but we still acknowledge that. Spo recognizes that and wants to make sure we know it's extremely important.”

Anthony would seem to be the resident Miami expert in this field.

After all, he's the Heat player who hails from Canada — hockey's epicenter.

“That extra pass, it means a lot for us,” Anthony said.

Miami's ball movement this season is beyond statistically impressive. In their four wins so far, the Heat have 109 assists against only 43 turnovers. Even with their lone loss taken into account, the Heat assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.98-to-1 led the NBA entering Thursday's games.

“Our team assist-to-turnover ratio is important,” Spoelstra said.

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