MIAMI Not that Chris Bosh hasn't been working hard, but now he has another reason to do it.
The Miami Heat forward returned Tuesday night after missing three games due to the death of his grandmother, Gloria White, at 77. Now Bosh wants to keep her memory going.
How does he do that? "Work hard," said Bosh, who scored a game-high 20 points in a 108-78 walloping of New Jersey at AmericanAirlines Arena. "Because she was always about that and helping people. And just try to keep her memory alive."
Bosh was close to his grandmother, who died in Dayton, Ohio, on Feb. 26, the day Bosh played in the All-Star Game in Orlando. After practicing twice after the break with the Heat, Bosh left the team to go to Dayton for last Saturday's funeral.
Bosh had thought about returning for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers. But he decided it was best to spend the extra time with his family.
White was the mother of Bosh's mother, Freida Bosh. When he was a kid, Bosh would spend each summer with his grandmother in Dayton. His parents would drive him from his hometown of Dallas.
"We were close," Bosh said. "I spent every single summer growing up at her house. She was one of those people in the neighborhood whose house was always open to anybody, and she helped so many people. She was a Sunday school teacher. Eight of us would be in the house (each summer), me and my cousins, and eight others would be there, friends from the neighborhood. She was like the grandmother for everybody."
The Heat had gone 1-2 without their best post guy, so they sure needed him back. Bosh only saw the score of last Friday's game, a 99-98 loss at Utah in which the Heat were outrebounded 50-32. He was able to watch Sunday's game, a 93-83 loss in which the Lakers beat up the Heat inside and outrebounded them 44-35.
"Seeing the final score on Friday and on Sunday just kind of agitates you a little," said Bosh, whose Heat had entered Friday's game with a nine-game winning streak in which they had outscored all foes by 12 or more points.
So Bosh went out and agitated the Nets, scoring 16 of his points in the first half while the Heat took a 64-37 lead. But the strange part was Bosh, the guy whose absence played a major role in the Heat being brutalized for two straight games on the boards, had no rebounds at the half.
Bosh at one time had 18 points and no rebounds, making it a race to see if he would reach 20 points or one rebound first. The rebound came first, and Bosh finished with two for the game in 24 minutes.
Heat forward LeBron James said lightheartedly that Bosh would have had a rebound in the first half but center Joel Anthony "knocked it out of his hands." Bosh said it was "slim pickings" on the boards due to teammates getting them. And guard Dwyane Wade called it a "weird" stat but expressed how happy he is that Bosh is back.
"It was great," Wade said. "We missed him . . . He got a lot of opportunities at the basket."
Bosh, averaging 18.5 points and 8.1 rebounds, also got plenty of rest, which was good considering the Heat again play Wednesday at home against Atlanta. James, who had 21 points and stole rebounds from Bosh to the tune of nine, logged just 30 minutes. And Wade played 15 in the first half before sitting out the second half for precautionary reasons.
Wade tweaked his right ankle, and Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said he could have played in the second half if needed. But he wasn't.
"We had a pretty good lead at the break and there was no need to push it, especially with a game (Wednesday)," Wade said. "I told coach I was there if he needed me, but I was just trying to be smart. No worries (about being ready for the Hawks)."
Not only did the rout provide the Heat with much-needed rest as they prepare to play a fifth game in seven days, it gave them a further chance to give their much-maligned reserve big men some work.
Center Dexter Pittman was among the big guys who had looked befuddled in the previous two games. But he had career highs Tuesday of 10 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes.
OK, it was against the lowly Nets. And it was against New Jersey scrubs late in the game. Still, Spoelstra called Pittman's play "encouraging."
"The weight I'm at, I'm comfortable playing at," said Pittman, who said he once weighed 395 pounds as a Texas freshman in 2006-07. He was at 322 when he reported for training camp in December and is now all the way down to 278. "I'm in the best shape I've been in."
Speaking of guys dropping pounds, the Heat also dusted off center Eddy Curry, who played six minutes, his first action since Feb. 17. Curry threw down an impressive alley-oop dunk with 3:44 left to give Miami its biggest lead of the game at 106-66. But it must be said he then fell down on defense on the other end while watching Jordan Williams make a layup.
The Nets have four players named Williams on their roster, which might be an NBA record. But the one that really counts, Deron, had just 16 points one game after he had broken loose for a career-high 57 at Charlotte. He also had no rebounds after having grabbed six on his epic night.
Bosh knows what an elusive rebounding feeling can be like. But there were no complaints about the rest of the game played Tuesday by the big man, who shot 9-of-14 and had no turnovers.
Bosh did his grandmother's memory proud.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson