MIAMI -- Unless the Miami Heat go on a 55-game losing streak, they're officially better than last season.
Dwyane Wade had 32 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Daequan Cook scored 15 of his 20 points to spark a second-quarter comeback, and the Heat matched last season's win total by beating the injury-depleted Golden State Warriors 96-88 on Tuesday night.
Udonis Haslem scored 16 points and Shawn Marion finished with a Heat season-high 16 rebounds as Miami reached the 15-win mark in 27 games -- 55 fewer than it needed to get there last season as the NBA's worst team.
"I don't want to make too much of it," Haslem said. "Last season was a tough season for everybody. We're past that now."
C.J. Watson scored 18 points for Golden State, which has lost 16 of 19. Kelenna Azubuike scored 16, Brandan Wright added 12 and Anthony Randolph finished with 10 for the Warriors, who got within four points in the final minutes but simply couldn't stop Wade, who delivered four points and a big assist to Marion with the game on the line.
"They just decided they could win whenever they got Wade back in the game," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "And that's actually what happened. He just took over."
Golden State was without Heat nemesis Jamal Crawford, who's averaged 27.9 points in his last eight appearances against Miami, including a 52-point outing two years ago and a 40-point night earlier this month.
Crawford was ruled out shortly before tip-off with a strained left groin, adding to the Warriors' heap of injury problems. Stephen Jackson (hand), Monta Ellis (ankle) and Corey Maggette (hamstring) also remain sidelined for Golden State (8-22), off to its worst 30-game start since the 1999-2000 team opened 6-24.
Combined, those four players have averaged a whopping 87.1 points against Miami since the start of the 2006-07 season.
But in the early going, the Warriors -- who used their 18th different starting lineup of the season -- hardly missed those guys, running out to a 32-21 lead. Watson had seven points in the first quarter and Azubuike had 10 in the first 14 minutes.
"We knew we were going to get their best effort," Wade said. "They came out early and it was really tough."
Eventually, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had seen more than enough.
After Azubuike had an easy score inside to push the Warriors' margin to 11, Spoelstra called a 20-second timeout and spent the break scribbling and speaking in a clearly annoyed manner.
He hit a quick trio of 3-pointers -- even banking in one from the top of the key -- to spark a rally, and Marion's dunk closed what was a quick 15-3 run out of that timeout to put the Heat on top 36-35, their first lead since the opening moments.
Cook hit two more 3-pointers later in the quarter, part of a stretch in which the Heat made seven consecutive shots after an 8-for-22 start, and Miami went into halftime with a 47-41 lead.
"Daequan got us back in the game," Spoelstra said.
Wade hit a pull-up with 2.2 seconds left in the third to give Miami what was its largest lead at the time, 67-56. That capped a 21-minute stretch in which Golden State shot 30 percent (9-for-30) and was outscored 46-24.
And somehow, the Warriors found a way to stay close.
Watson and Azubuike hit 3-pointers within a 44-second span, and when Ronny Turiaf scored inside with 6:55 left, the Warriors had peeled off a quick 9-2 spurt to get to 76-71. Golden State got within four when DeMarcus Nelson scored and Spoelstra drew a technical from referee Joe Forte for arguing that Andres Biedrins grabbed the rim.
Replays showed Spoelstra was right, but after Anthony Morrow made the free throw, the scoreboard showed Miami's lead was down to 82-78 with 4:19 left.
"We're giving everything we've got," Azubuike said. "That's all you can ask for. You just have to be ready to play, no matter who's out there."
Golden State got no closer. Wade found Marion for a dunk, hit a pair of free throws and then made an acrobatic layup with 1:32 left for a 90-80 Miami lead, and the Heat escaped.
"That was a roller-coaster, in terms of our offensive focus," Spoelstra said. "Just a real lack of focus. ... It's a shame, too, because defensively, after the first quarter, we were very active and disruptive."
Cook's 15 points in the second quarter were his most in a period, topping 13 in the fourth quarter of this season's opener against the Knicks. ... The teams combined for seven turnovers and no points in the first 3:19 of the third quarter. ... The Warriors are 2-12 in their past 14 trips to Miami. ... Biedrins, who came in shooting a less-than-robust 58.6 percent from the foul line, airballed one try in the third quarter and barely hit the front rim with another.
|Golden State (8-22)||24||17||15||32||88|
|Miami (15-12) «||21||26||20||29||96|
|GS:C. Watson 18 Pts
GS:A. Biedrins 9 Reb
GS:K. Azubuike 3 Ast
|MIA:D. Wade 32 Pts
MIA:S. Marion 16 Reb
MIA:D. Wade 8 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|K. Azubuike, SF||40||6-19||2-2||9||3||3||16|
|C. Watson, PG||39||7-15||2-2||1||2||1||18|
|M. Belinelli, SG||32||3-11||0-0||1||3||2||7|
|A. Biedrins, C||30||3-8||0-2||9||2||4||6|
|B. Wright, SF||18||4-7||4-4||2||0||0||12|
|A. Morrow, SG||27||3-11||2-2||7||1||3||8|
|A. Randolph, SF||20||4-9||2-2||6||0||1||10|
|R. Turiaf, PF||18||2-4||1-1||5||2||3||5|
|D. Nelson, SG||16||1-5||4-4||1||1||5||6|
|C. Maggette, SF||Did Not Play|
|S. Jackson, SG||Did Not Play|
|J. Crawford, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Ellis, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Williams, PG||Did Not Play|
|R. Kurz, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|S. Marion, PF||39||3-7||3-4||16||3||2||9|
|M. Chalmers, PG||39||2-6||2-2||3||4||3||7|
|D. Wade, SG||38||13-25||6-10||8||8||3||32|
|U. Haslem, PF||37||8-11||0-2||8||2||1||16|
|J. Anthony, C||19||3-4||1-3||2||0||3||7|
|D. Cook, SG||27||7-11||1-2||4||1||4||20|
|M. Beasley, PF||13||2-7||1-2||2||0||2||5|
|C. Quinn, PG||10||0-0||0-0||2||2||0||0|
|Y. Diawara, SG||9||0-2||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|J. Magloire, C||6||0-1||0-0||3||0||1||0|
|M. Banks, PG||3||0-0||0-0||0||0||1||0|
|M. Blount, C||Did Not Play|
|S. Livingston, PG||Did Not Play|
|D. Wright, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. Jones, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|