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CLEVELAND (AP) – Miami star Dwyane Wade went down with a knee injury in the first half, and the Heat’s playoff chances took another major blow with a 114-88 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.
Wade sustained a bruised left knee in the first half and Miami didn’t have the firepower to stop the Cavs, who got 23 points apiece from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and won their 17th straight at home. James added eight rebounds and seven assists against his former team.
Tristan Thompson added 15 rebounds for Cleveland, a league-best 30-7 since Jan. 15.
The Heat dropped into a tie for eighth place with idle Boston in the Eastern Conference standings.
The four-time defending conference champions can’t afford to be without Wade, their leading scorer and undisputed leader. Miami is already missing All-Star forward Chris Bosh (blood clots) and the club has been besieged by several other injuries in its first season without James.
Iman Shumpert added 17 points for the Cavs, who played without starting forward Kevin Love. He sat out with a sore back after being elbowed in Sunday’s win over Philadelphia.
Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside scored 17 each for Miami.
Wade got hurt midway through the second quarter, when his right knee buckled while he drove the right side.
The three-time NBA champion crumpled to the floor with his left knee bending awkwardly to the side. With Wade on his back, the Cavs stole the ball, and as play continued on the other end, the 33-year-old remained on the floor and grabbed his left knee. Wade slowly got to his feet, and with concerned teammates looking on, he walked gingerly toward the locker room.
At halftime, a team spokesman said Wade’s knee was bruised but offered no other details.
Wade, who has missed 19 games this season, had his left knee drained of fluid last weekend. He has struggled with knee issues over the last few seasons with the Heat managing his playing time to keep the 11-time All-Star as healthy as possible.
Going in, the fourth meeting between Cleveland and Miami this season was viewed as a possible playoff preview. But if Wade is sidelined, the Heat are going to have a difficult time getting back to the postseason.
The Heat were still within 11 late in the third quarter before the Cavs scored eight straight, capped by J.R. Smith’s 3-pointer in the final seconds to take a 91-72 lead.
With his first basket, a short hook in the lane, James passed Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing (24,815 points) for 20th place on the NBA’s career scoring list. Next up for the 30-year-old James, who has averaged at least 25 points in each of the past 10 seasons, is Jerry West (25,192).
Heat: Miami was without Udonis Haslem, who missed his second straight game with the stomach flu. “Haslem is here,” said coach Erik Spoelstra, who thought he might be in for a fight to keep the Heat’s captain out. “I may have to use my boxing gloves.”… Spoelstra said F Josh McRoberts, out for the season after having knee surgery in December, is traveling with the team but hasn’t begun basketball activities. … Miami has used a team record-tying 30 lineups this season.
Cavaliers: Cleveland’s team record for consecutive home wins is 23, set during the 2008-09 season. … NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke at the Cavs’ annual corporate partner summit during the afternoon. … James Jones replaced Love and made his second start this season. … James didn’t find the cross-over that Golden State’s Stephen Curry pulled on close friend Chris Paul as amusing as the rest of the basketball world. James knows any player can get be made to look bad. “I’ve been crossed, I’ve been dunked on, and that’s OK,” James said. “But if you add how many times I’ve been dunked on and crossed compared to how many times I’ve crossed and dunked on people, my number outweighs.”
Heat: at Detroit on Saturday.
Cavaliers: host Chicago on Sunday.
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