Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As Miami Heat star guard Dwyane Wade sat on the bench watching his team win without him, some began asking how good the team was without Wade. Friday night, Wade showed the world just what he means to the Heat.
Wade played just more than 32 minutes in his return and poured in 28 points, grabbed 2 rebounds, dished out 4 assists, and even had 5 steals in the Heat’s 99-89 thumping of the New York Knicks.
“Real nice to be back,” Wade said. “Felt great. Felt great.”
It also felt great to the Miami fans and sparked quite a Miami defensive performance. The Miami defense forced the Knicks to shoot three-point shots all night long, with the Knicks finishing with 43 three-point attempts.
But throughout the game, while the Knicks were content to stand outside and shoot the long ball, the Heat repeatedly attacked the basket and put up highlight after highlight. And when the Heat got to the basket, they also went to the free throw line.
The Heat hit 88.5 percent of their free throws in the game and were +9 in the turnover battle against the Knicks. Despite New York’s height with Tyson Chandler down low, the Heat outrebounded the Knicks for the game and had more blocked shots.
But throughout the game, whenever the Heat needed it, the combination of LeBron James and Wade was simply too much for the Knicks to deal with. The Heat’s bench came through with 27 points and 14 rebounds throughout the game.
The only thing missing from the Knicks game was a return of center Eddy Curry to the Heat’s lineup to face his old team. But, Curry will get another chance to pull that off when the Heat play the Knicks again on February 23 at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Heat has no time to res though. The squad has Saturday off before hitting the court again Sunday to play the Chicago Bulls at 3:30 p.m. The Heat also play at home on Monday before starting a rough month of February that will have the team on the road more than at home.
In February, the Heat play eight of 13 scheduled games on the road, including a back-to-back-to-back series against the Hawks, Bucks, and Pacers.