Dwyane Wade finding his groove as Heat chug along
MIAMI — He didn’t wear a mask, which meant he again was overshadowed much of the night by a certain Miami Heat teammate and fellow Big Three member.
Dwyane Wade simply went about his business in a way that gives Heat fans hope of a three-peat as NBA champions.
Wade scored a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting to help Miami earn a 112-98 victory against the Orlando Magic on Saturday night.
It was Miami’s seventh straight win — making it 10 of 11 — and the fourth consecutive game in which Wade had scored at least 23 points.
"I am in one of those grooves right now," he said. "Taking my shots. Some of them are wide open and some of them are not. I’m just taking the shots I’m comfortable with.
"I’ll always give credit to my teammates for putting me in position setting great screens. (Greg Oden) set great screens tonight. Birdman (Chris Andersen) set one that gives me a moment to make a move or make a decision. Right now, I’m just trying to make every shot that I shoot. When I miss one, I try not to miss another one. Just try to stay consistent."
That approach certainly has been on the mark recently. While most discussion about Wade during the season’s first half concerned sore knees that required the star miss 15 games, talk the past few weeks — especially since the All-Star break — has been about his play.
Wade has shot 62 percent during his past four games, and that doesn’t include a 4-of-7 effort (13 points) at Dallas in the first game following All-Star weekend.
"The worst-kept secret is that he has worked on his game and developed his game for the last three years to not only reinvent himself but more importantly add a skill set that is important for this group," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
"He couldn’t just be the same player that he was before the way this team has been put together. It has been a long, steady process of developing his post-up game and midrange game."
LeBron James said Wade’s post-up game actually goes back to when the 6-foot-4 guard was in college.
"He’s always been able to post up, even when he was at Marquette," James said. "That’s what he did a lot. Being able to post up smaller guards. For the most part, he’s going to get smaller guards on him. His ability to go outside inside, inside outside has definitely been a benefit to him and the team."
After most pregame attention Saturday focused on the NBA having made James ditch a black mask for a clear one to protect his broken nose, a lot of postgame talk centered on Wade.
"He’s in a great rhythm right now," James said. "It starts with his health. He’s not 100 prevent obviously, but he’s got his legs under him. He has a bounce to his step.
"Anytime he’s doing Euro-steps, across and back, he’s playing his game. He’s not second-guessing it. Every time he’s landing on two feet on his pull-up jumpers, he’s feeling good. It’s great to see."
Opponents have taken notice as Wade has re-energized the Big Three of himself, James and Chris Bosh.
"He makes them a different team," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "When he can score the basketball, he’s just a tough match, (especially) at this ability to get to the rim.
"He can post up smaller twos (shooting guards), he can get by if you put a three (small forward) on him. Then when he’s maiking his pull-up jumper, he’s really tough to guard."