While LeBron commands attention, Wade also playing at MVP level

by | Senior Fantasy Writer
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Since Wade's return from injury on Jan. 27, the Heat are 12-2. (US Presswire)  
Since Wade's return from injury on Jan. 27, the Heat are 12-2. (US Presswire)  

MIAMI -- LeBron James has dominated the headlines for the Heat this season, and rightfully so. He's the leading MVP candidate and, for some reason, he continues to create controversy about where he will play two years from now.

But if you haven't paid attention in February -- and it's OK to be distracted with the Super Bowl, Valentine's Day and Linsanity, among other things -- James' running mate has been pretty good as well. Dwyane Wade is having an incredible stretch this month.

He continued his stellar play Sunday against the Magic in a 90-78 Heat victory in front of former President Bill Clinton, who was sitting courtside. Wade had 27 points, six rebounds, two assists, three blocks and two steals on 13-of-23 shooting from the field, and he played only 31 minutes.

Once again, Wade was overshadowed by James, who barely missed a triple-double with 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, and Clinton. Coach Erik Spoelstra said he didn't notice Clinton sitting there, but Wade and James did.

James said it was "humbling" to have Clinton at the game, and Wade made sure to say hi. He also put on a show Clinton had to like.

Coming into this game, Wade was averaging 24.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.2 blocks while playing just over 30 minutes a game and shooting 55.6 percent from the field in February. He said he's playing aggressive now, and the results are evident.

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"Just being in a groove," Wade said. "I'm just taking advantage of it. I'm getting back to taking my shots, and I'm hitting them."

It helps when the opportunities are easy. He had two alley-oop dunks from James in the first half and four layups, and was 9 for 13 from the field at halftime. It looked effortless for him to get by Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick, who started in place of Jason Richardson (chest pains).

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was talking about Richardson after the game and said he's usually the one with chest pains, not his players.

"But my chest pain is Dwyane Wade," Van Gundy joked.

Van Gundy, like the rest of the NBA, has been impressed with the Heat, who have won six straight and own the NBA's best record (25-7). This is their best start in franchise history, and they avenged their last loss, which came Feb. 8 at Orlando. Since then, the Heat has won every game by at least 15 points, with Wade helping James do the heavy lifting.

But as good as Wade and James have been, Van Gundy said the reason for Miami's success is how the rest of the team has been playing. Van Gundy cited the Heat's depth, giving credit to Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem being healthy and the emergence of rookie guard Norris Cole. He said Mario Chalmers has "settled their point-guard situation." And he credited Spoelstra for getting Chris Bosh more involved while not taking anything away from Wade and James.

Still, it helps when your two best players are dominant every night. James has been there all season, and Wade is finally coming around in February after missing nine games in January with foot and ankle injuries.

"He's playing in a terrific rhythm," Spoelstra said. "He's being aggressive and finding his opportunities. ... He's getting good shots, and he's putting them in."

The showdown is now set for Thursday night between the most exciting player of the moment in Jeremy Lin coming to Miami to face the Heat, which is the best team in the NBA. The Heat players are aware of Lin, as Wade said, "it's the Lin show right now."

But the Heat are more concerned about their own play heading into the All-Star break, and Wade said despite the recent success, the team can still improve. He said the Heat can still find another gear going into the playoffs and then another gear after that once the playoffs arrive.

If that happens, then the Heat could be tough to beat, and more meetings with the President might be in store. Only the next visit won't be with Clinton, and the setting will likely be the White House, and not on a basketball court.

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