Miami Struggles Without Wade in Lineup

Friday, February 23rd 2007, 6:42 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ If Thursday night's game against the Dallas Mavericks is any indicator, it may be a hard road for the Miami Heat without Dwyane Wade. One night after Wade dislocated his left shoulder, the Mavericks jumped out to a 23-point halftime lead on the way to a 112-100 victory over the defending NBA champs.

Wade is considering season-ending surgery to repair his shoulder after he was hurt in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night's 112-102 loss at Houston. Wade flew home early Thursday in a private plane and was examined at a hospital by team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick, who conducted a battery of tests.

And without Wade _ the NBA's third-leading scorer at nearly 29 points per game _ the Heat didn't look like the same team that won Game 6 of the championship series on Dallas' home floor.

``Basically everything goes through (Wade) offensively,'' Miami forward Udonis Haslem said. ``We've got to find a way to make adjustments. We've got a lot to prove with him out.''

Heat coach Pat Riley said he expects Wade to make a decision on whether to have the surgery in the next two days.

``We need to regroup offensively.'' Riley said. ``We have to get our heads back into it. The next week is going to be big for us.''

In other games, it was, Chicago 84, Cleveland 78 and Washington 109, Sacramento 106.

In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Mavericks won their 10th straight and 31st in 33 games. Dallas became just the fourth team in NBA history to post three winning streaks of 10 or more in the same season.

Jason Terry scored 16 points in the second quarter as the Mavericks led 65-42 at halftime. Dallas led by as much as 32 in the fourth quarter.

``We haven't won anything yet,'' Nowitzki said. ``We want to be the best team in June, not in February. It's so early. We've got a lot of games left.''

Since Miami won its first NBA championship last June, things have not gone smoothly.

Riley returned this week after been sidelined since Jan. 3 for operations to replace his left hip and repair cartilage in his right knee.

Point guard Jason Williams returned Wednesday night after missing 20 games with a torn abdominal muscle.

Star center Shaquille O'Neal is still rounding into form after missing 39 games with a knee injury. He had 17 points and eight rebounds Thursday night in his 10th game back.

``I'll probably be taking the bulk of the shots now,'' O'Neal said. ``And when I'm doubled, guys have to be ready to shoot.''

Regardless of Wade's choice of treatment, his injury further weakens the Heat's bid to repeat. They may be hard-pressed merely to make the playoffs.

The Heat had won seven of eight games to reach .500, their best record since they were 3-3, and appeared ready to surge into the playoffs.

But Miami has now lost two consecutive games and its hold on the eighth and final playoff spot could be slipping away.

Miami is 1 1/2 games ahead of the New Jersey and 2 1/2 ahead of the New York Knicks. The Washington Wizards have a six-game cushion over the Heat in the Southeast Division.

``That's all it's about for us,'' Riley said. ``Let's find a way to get into the playoffs and see what we can do.''

Bulls 84, Cavaliers 78

At Cleveland, Luol Deng scored 18 points and Ben Wallace had 19 rebounds, a season-high seven blocks and two huge free throws in the final minutes as Chicago snapped a six-game losing streak in Cleveland.

Wallace added 14 points.Ben Gordon scored 16 points and Kirk Hinrich 11 for the Bulls, who overcame foul trouble and put away the Cavaliers with a 14-5 burst in the fourth quarter.

LeBron James scored 29 points and Larry Hughes had 20 for Cleveland, but the Cavaliers, the NBA's worst free-throw shooting team, were just 8-of-16 from the line.

Wizards 109, Kings 106

At Washington, Gilbert Arenas scored 30 of his 43 points in the first half, and Washington blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead and survived a video review at the buzzer to beat Sacramento.

With 0.7 seconds remaining, John Salmons took a long inbounds pass and made a turnaround jump shot at the 3-point arc. Officials initially ruled it a good 2-point basket, but replay showed it to be a 3 that was released just after the clock hit 0.0.

Caron Butler scored 19 of his 25 points after halftime. DeShawn Stevenson finished with 21 points for the Wizards, who won their third straight and improved to 4-4 since Antawn Jamison was sidelined with a knee injury.

Ron Artest had 21 of his 32 points by halftime and Mike Bibby scored 30 for the Kings.