88 - 96 Final
  for this game

Wade carries Heat to third straight victory

Dec 24, 2008 - 4:45 AM By Christopher Stock PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MIAMI (Ticker) -- Dwyane Wade continues to carry the rebuilding Miami Heat.

The superstar guard did it all once again Tuesday night, collecting 32 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to lead the Heat to a 96-88 triumph over the Golden State Warriors.

The Heat have now equaled their win total from last season. Not too far removed from an NBA title, last year's Heat stumbled to a league-worst 15-67 finish in 2007-08.

"lt feels good to be past last year," Wade said.

It was the third straight stellar performance for Wade - and, not coincidentally, the team's third victory in a row. The former NBA Finals MVP suffered through a three-game slump last week and the Heat lost all three contests. But he has regained his stroke, and the victories are piling up once again.

"When I get 30, I'm active and it opens the floor for everyone else," Wade said. "I was more impressed with my overall game instead of the 30 points."

While the Warriors kept the pressure on despite a subpar offensive showing, Wade helped close them out down the stretch.

Golden State closed to within four with about five minutes left, but Wade pulled up for a 21-footer to extend the lead. After the Warriors cut their deficit to 84-80 on Anthony Morrow's bucket later in the period, Wade found a streaking Shawn Marion for a dunk. Marion finished with a game-high 16 rebounds.

"I think they just decided they could win whenever they got Wade back in the game and that's actually what happened. He just took over and he was well-rested," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "Occasionally, you can trick somebody like that or he has a bad game or you get hot at the wrong time you can win a game like that."

Wade buried a driving layup and a pair of free throws in the final 36 seconds to officially seal it.

"I don't think there was a lot of sweat on their brow even though we were close," Nelson said.

Golden State was without four of its top players, with leading scorer Jamal Crawford being the latest to go down with an injury. Crawford was held out after straining his groin before Monday's game against Orlando but played through the injury. Stephen Jackson (hand) and Corey Maggette (hamstring) were also out with injuries along with Monta Ellis (ankle), who has not played yet this season.

"We were shorthanded of course, but we didn't want to use that as an excuse," Azubuike said.

Wade scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, while teammate Udonis Haslem finished the night with 16 and eight rebounds.

C.J. Watson - who filled in for Crawford in the starting lineup - scored 18 points to lead Golden State, which has lost seven of its last eight games. Kelenna Azubuike added 16.

The Warriors held a 32-21 lead early in the second quarter after Kelenna Azubuike's layup, which capped a 15-2 run. But the Heat got a boost off the bench from Daequan Cook, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull within 32-27. Wade drained a layup before Cook connected for another three.

"We just have to understand our identity defensively is to be disruptive," Haslem said. "We came out defensively kind of sluggish and sparring with them a little bit. We dug ourselves in a little bit of a hole and when we decided to turn on the defensive intensity is when we got back in the game."

Cook went on to hit two more 3-pointers in the quarter as the Heat led, 47-41, at halftime behind Cook's 17 first-half points - including 15 in the second quarter.

"It felt great," Cook said. "It just shows how focused you are and where your head is at and how aggressive I was. It's just about me having that every game and being a lot more consistent."

Miami never trailed in the second half and led by as many as 12.