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Heat's Dwyane Wade finding rhythm after four-game absence

MIAMI -- Maybe Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade was trying to drop a hint.

After the Heat's loss to Oklahoma City last week, Wade repeatedly talked about being a secondary player. He mentioned how he was asked mostly to play off the ball.

Apparently, coach Erik Spoelstra received the message.

Wade had one of his more active games in weeks when he scored 22 points in Saturday's win against the New York Knicks. It was his first 20-point performance since Jan. 9, a span of nine games. He said the reason was because he was allowed to handle the ball more often than in game's past.

More importantly, it was his most effective game since returning after missing four games because of knee soreness. He is expected to play Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons at AmericanAirlines Arena.

"Yea, the best I've felt," Wade said. "I would love to continue to feel this way, exactly this way. Like I said, coach did a great job putting me in different positions that I haven't been in since I've been back. I'm back in my comfort zone with the offensive package so it was good."

And what exactly is that comfort zone?

"With the ball in my hand," Wade said. "That's my comfort. That's what I've done my whole life, especially with the second unit and really kind of letting me be the floor general a little bit and make plays for other guys but also be aggressive myself."

Even though Wade controlled the ball more, he was most effective when cutting to the basket. Spoelstra said that has been one of the key additions to Wade's game this season.

"He's really come a long way with that," Spoelstra said. "Sometimes your offense can get stuck against good defenses. You have to sometimes create things out of nothing. Dwyane now has become the epitome of finding energy. He'll find open gaps. It's tough to prepare for that because he has instincts now. He's created that habit and he's doing it at unpredictable times."

Wade added, "Some nights, it's there. Some nights, it's not. I was able to get a few off cuts to kind of get myself going."

For Wade, it was mostly about taking advantage of teams paying so much attention to LeBron James. His presence was partly responsible for the breakout game.

"Just trying to read the defense," Wade said. "Most of the time LeBron has a lot of attention. I was able to get a couple of opportunities to slash and get to the basket and kind of open up my rhythm a little bit. You just never know how the defense is going to play and I take advantage of it."

Wade said he is learning his best opportunity comes playing with the second unit when James is on the bench. This has given him chance to at least revisit being a primary player, a role he held until James arrived in 2010.

"My (fourth) game back, I was feeling a lot better," Wade said. "Coach did a good job putting me in the spots I could be successful. It all worked together ... The second unit as of late, we haven't been doing our job as in not only holding down the fort but also taking it up."

With Wade coming off a strong game, the Heat hope they can move back toward the days of the entire Big Three producing simultaneously. It hasn't happened as often this season, with Wade and center Chris Bosh struggling at times.

Bosh shot just 2 of 11 from the field against the Knicks but Spoelstra seemed to have no concerns about it. He had 10 rebounds while also showing versatility on defense, even guarding Carmelo Anthony on a few possessions.

"He was two through five," Spoelstra said. "He was guarding everybody on the court except for the point guards and sometimes changing on one possession to another. Literally, it was about five out of eight different possessions he guarded four different guys."

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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MIAMI HEAT


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