The oft-injured big man threw down a dunk on his first touch, and finished with two points, two rebounds and two turnovers in four minutes.
With 5:15 remaining in the second quarter and the Pelicans leading 51-45, Oden, wearing his new No. 20, checked into a game for the first time as the member of the Heat.
The 25-year-old seven-footer was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft out of Ohio State, selected one spot ahead of Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant. He appeared in 82 games for the Blazers over five years before he was released in 2012 due to a series of knee injuries. On Miami's first possession, Mario Chalmers passed the ball to Chris Bosh at the elbow, as Oden worked his way down into low post position. Bosh dumped a pass into Oden, who took one dribble to set himself and then rose for a two-handed slam. He patted the backboard in celebration before heading back to play defense.
Oden signed a one-year, veteran's minimum contract with the Heat in August. He holds career averages of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
After being released by the Blazers in March 2012, Oden has been rehabilitating from multiple knee surgeries, including a second microfracture surgery on his left knee in February 2012 and arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Prior to that round of surgeries, Oden also had left knee surgery in 2009 after fracturing his patella, microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2010 to address a “defect” that occurred during non-contact rehabilitation work, and a microfracture surgery on his right knee in 2007. Oden also reportedly underwent Orthokine injections on both knees back in May 2012 and admitted to problems with alcohol during his time with the Blazers.
He told reporters in August that he had “some dark times” in Portland but that he was looking forward to a new chapter in Miami.
“After three years of being out, I’m just going to go out and do what I can,” Oden said, according to the Associated Press. “If somehow (my body) says no, then it says no. But for me, I’m not even worried about that. Just go play and not even think about that. I’ve signed on the dotted line, put it like that. I’ve got a contract. As y’all can see this smile, I’ve got a contract. I’m excited.”
Oden has participated in portions of Miami's training camp but reportedly had faced "setbacks" with his progress. The Heat did not announce before the game that Oden would get his first run of the exhibition season. Miami will complete its preseason schedule against Brooklyn on Friday. The Heat will then host the Bulls on Oct. 29 to open their regular season.