Wade down Fri­day, but maybe not out Sun­day

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By David Furones [email protected]­sen­tinel.com / On Twit­ter @DavidFurones_

When Mi­ami Heat sixth man Dwyane Wade took a scary fall on a drive to the bas­ket late in the third quar­ter Fri­day night against the Mil­wau­kee Bucks and was slow to get up, the worst could have come to mind.

What if Wade, with 14 reg­u­lar-sea­son games re­main­ing in his “One Last Dance” re­tire­ment sea­son, were to miss a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of those down the fi­nal stretch? Or even all of them?

Cri­sis averted from that stand­point. “I think Dwyane will be OK,” Heat coach Erik Spoel­stra said af­ter Fri­day’s game. “He fell on his hip pretty hard, but he was mov­ing around OK when he came back.”

Wade, who played Fri­day de­spite en­ter­ing as ques­tion­able with a bruised el­bow, reaf­firmed: “I’m OK, just got a lit­tle bruise. I’ll be all right.”

He was able to re­turn to the game af­ter a pit stop in the locker room for his bruised right hip, as was point guard Jus­tise Winslow with his right thigh bruise — his re­turn si­mul­ta­ne­ous with Wade’s ini­tial exit af­ter Winslow went to the locker room ear­lier in the third quar­ter.

Both Wade and Winslow are ques­tion­able for Sun­day’s matchup with the Char­lotte Hor­nets at Amer­i­canAir­lines Arena at 1 p.m. The Hor­nets are one game be­hind the Heat for the Eastern Con­fer­ence’s fi­nal play­off spot.

Winslow, how­ever, ap­peared to feel the ef­fects of his in­jury more upon his re­turn. Af­ter he scored 20 points in the first half — a ca­reer high for the fourth-year player out of Duke — on 8-of-12 shoot­ing, in­clud­ing 3 of 5, Winslow was score­less in 12 min­utes­dur­ing the sec­ond half.

“Jus­tise cer­tainly wasn’t mov­ing around in the sec­ond half the way he was in the first half,” Spoel­stra said. “[Satur­day] is go­ing to be a big treat­ment day, around the clock.”

Winslow said the thigh bruise slowed him down “a good amount.”

“I just didn’t have the top gear that I usu­ally like to play with on both ends of the floor,” he said. “It af­fected me, but my mind was that I was out there. I was try­ing to push through it and help my team win.”

The Heat had been as healthy as they’ve been all sea­son head­ing into Fri­day’s game. All NBA-con­tract play­ers have been avail­able since the March 8 win over the Cleve­land Cava­liers.

With Winslow and Wade ques­tion­able, the Heat be­gin a stretch of five games in seven days with Sun­day’s matchup against the Hor­nets. A four-game road trip starts in Ok­la­homa City and will also fea­ture stops in San An­to­nio, Mil­wau­kee and Wash­ing­ton.

The Shazier ex­change: Wade had a unique jer­sey ex­change fol­low­ing Fri­day night’s game. Ar­guably the great­est ath­lete in South Florida sports his­tory had a mo­ment with a South Florida prod­uct in the NFL who is bat­tling back from a se­vere spinal in­jury, Pitts­burgh Steel­ers line­backer Ryan Shazier.

Shazier, who at­tended Plan­ta­tion High be­fore play­ing col­le­giately at Ohio State, sat court­side Fri­day night and took a pic­ture with Wade on the Amer­i­canAir­lines Arena floor at the game’s con­clu­sion. He was then in­vited into the Heat locker room, where he had his No. 50 Steel­ers jer­sey to swap with Wade. The back­story dates back to Jan­uary when Shazier tagged Wade in a tweet say­ing, “man I wish I played in the nba @DwyaneWade. I would love to get one of your jer­seys. Al­ways en­joyed watch­ing you play.”

Wade replied: “Come to a game bro we can make that hap­pen.”

So on Fri­day, it hap­pened.

“Just as an ath­lete and as a hu­man be­ing, I told him thank you for in­spir­ing ev­ery­one with his courage to not give up,” Wade said. “[I’m]just ap­pre­cia­tive of what he stands for and what he’s done. [It was] just a to­ken of my ap­pre­ci­a­tion.”

In an In­sta­gram post, Wade wrote: “A real life hero. A true in­spi­ra­tion. Thank you @RyanS­hazier for your courage. Thank you for show­ing so many in­di­vid­u­als in the world what be­liev­ing in your­self looks like.

Shazier ini­tially suf­fered the in­jury Dec. 4, 2017, end­ing his sea­son af­ter spinal sta­bi­liza­tion surgery three days later. He missed the en­tire 2018 sea­son but is still work­ing to­ward a re­turn to the NFL.

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