Friday, December 28, 2007

"In a Losing Effort ..."

I have a feeling that we are going to see the phrases "Dwyane Wade," "tremendous performance," and "in a losing effort" strung together in a lot of sentences this season. The Miami Heat just aren't very good, with an aging Shaq, Ricky Ricky, and J-Will making up the bulk of D-Wade's supporting cast. But that doesn't mean Wade is letting off the gas pedal. In fact, because the Heat are so terrible, Wade has been getting his legs underneath him below the radar. He's been a little spotty this year coming back from his myriad injuries and seemed destined to have a down year along with the rest of his team. However, if anyone was under the impression that Wade would be chalking this season up as a lost cause probably isn't thinking that after tonight's game against Orlando.

I didn't plan on watching much of this one because Heat games tend to be incredibly boring, but I had it locked into my rotation of channel surfing because of the Dwight Howard Factor (he's becoming "must see TV" in a hurry) and the SVG Factor (I was looking forward to watching Stan Van Gundy pull the knife out of his back and wield it against Riles), so I saw enough of the first three quarters to know that D-Wade was playing for keeps. Pull-up jumpers, blocked shots, hustle plays, you name it. So I put the game into the #1 slot for the fourth quarter and wound up being treated to some vintage Wade (in addition to some impressive play by Howard, Carlos Arroyo, and Hedo Turkoglu of the Magic). The man who falls down seven times and gets up eight (which, as my friend Jack has pointed out, doesn't even make sense unless he started out on the ground in the first place) went off in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 points in the period and controlling the game at both ends. He made a series of impossible shots and then managed to set up Daequan Cook for an even more impossible game-tying three.

In overtime, Wade used Orlando's over-aggressive defensive against them, bringing defenders and then finding Cook (who needs to be playing 40 minutes a night, ASAP) for some huge shots. In the end, the Magic got too many big shots from Turkoglu in the OT and too many rebounds and big free throws from Howard (he went for 29 and 21 - his 10th career 20/20 game - and shot an impressive 9-for-11 from the line) and wound up pulling off the road win, but Dwyane Wade absolutely made a statement in this game that he won't be tanking or resting or quitting in any way, shape, or form during the 07-08 season (even though getting Michael Beasley and building around Wade, Cook, and Beasley is this team's best chance).

Wade's line for the night pretty much says it all: 48 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 steals, and 16-of-21 shooting from the floor. It was probably the best individual performance I've seen in the NBA this season and yes, it wound up being in a losing effort.

As I said at the top, I'm afraid we're going to be hearing that a lot this season.

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