Wade takes lead as Heat head west

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Sports - By David Furones South Flor­ida Sun Sen­tinel [email protected]­sen­tinel.com / On Twit­ter @DavidFurones_ — Edited from news ser­vices

MI­AMI Be­tween Has­san White­side’s up­set stom­ach and the team’s in­abil­ity to build mo­men­tum dur­ing its home­s­tand, the Mi­ami Heat must find a way to get go­ing as they be­gin a six-game Western Con­fer­ence road trip.

The Heat are off to a 9-14 start this sea­son after com­ing up empty against the Or­lando Magic on Tues­day night and miss­ing a chance to notch a third con­sec­u­tive vic­tory. And things won’t be get­ting any eas­ier.

Over the next week and a half, the Heat will not only be away from home, but far from home. They’re in Phoenix on Fri­day night, in Los An­ge­les the next night against the Clip­pers, fol­lowed by the Lak­ers on Mon­day and then Utah, Mem­phis and New Or­leans on the way back home.

These are the times when a team looks to a 16-year, fu­ture Hall of Fame vet­eran to lead it. And Dwyane Wade has spo­ken.

“It’s been ad­dressed,” Wade said Wed­nes­day. “You just got to go per­form and un­der­stand where we’re at in the sea­son. We’re go­ing on the road for six games. We’ve got to play good bas­ket­ball.”

Wade has no­ticed the Heat get­ting com­pla­cent after any small suc­cess, and that hasn’t al­lowed them to reel off any kind of win­ning streak to climb over .500.

“It didn’t feel like the last two games, where we needed wins be­cause we were strug­gling,” Wade said of Tues­day night’s loss to the Magic. “I think win­ning two, we just re­laxed for some rea­son, like we got enough wins around here.

“You know, it’s go time. You don’t want to get too far be­hind be­cause this league is a good league, and you [may] never be able to catch up.”

The loss put the Heat at 1-7 in games against South­east Divi­sion op­po­nents — a divi­sion that, en­ter­ing Wed­nes­day, has no team above .500. Mi­ami is los­ing to teams it should be bet­ter than, a no­tion to which Wade of­fers a sharp coun­ter­point based on the re­sults.

“Are we bet­ter?” he asked. “Or­lando was bet­ter than us com­ing into [Tues­day night]. We’re not bet­ter. They’re beat­ing us, so we’re not bet­ter.”

The Heat can’t af­ford look at the 4-20 Suns that re­gard ei­ther.

“It’s not look­ing at Phoenix and say­ing, ‘Oh, we should get that game’ — we’re not one of the best teams in the league,” said Wade, of­fer­ing a dose of re­al­ity. “We’re one of those teams where peo­ple look at us like, ‘We should get that game,’ be­cause of our record.”

Mak­ing things more dif­fi­cult, point guard Go­ran Dragic has missed eight con­sec­u­tive games with a swollen right knee that has taken longer to heal than the team orig­i­nally hoped.

“Go­ran’s con­tin­u­ing to work,” said Heat coach to in Erik Spoel­stra, who added that Dragic’s ab­sence shouldn’t make or break this team.

“It doesn’t mat­ter. This is who we have, and we have enough. And we’ve proven that we’ve had enough. I love Go­ran and I re­ally want him back more than any­body, but that’s where we are right now.”

Added Wade: “You can’t look to what you don’t have. Right now, we have what we have.”

An­kle felt fine for McGruder: Deal­ing with a sprained right an­kle, wing Rod­ney McGruder was able to keep his starter streak alive Tues­day. Ques­tion­able go­ing in, he has now started all 23 games this sea­son.

“The train­ing staff did a good job of just get­ting me as com­fort­able as I pos­si­bly could,” said McGruder, who had seven points, seven re­bounds and two as­sists in nearly 27 min­utes.

It came down to prov­ing to the train­ing staff that his move­ments weren’t af­fected by an ail­ing an­kle. McGruder hurt it and ex­ited Sun­day’s game early after step­ping on Jazz point guard Ricky Ru­bio’s foot.

“I wanted to go back, but doc didn’t think it was a good idea to go back, so I didn’t,” McGruder said. “Have to [lis­ten] be­cause they’ve seen these sit­u­a­tions so many times.”

BOX­ING: For­mer light heavy­weight world champ Ado­nis Steven­son un­der­went emer­gency brain surgery fol­low­ing his knock­out loss to Olek­sandr Gvozdyk on Satur­day night in Que­bec City and re­mains in a med­i­cally in­duced coma. Steven­son, 41, was in sta­ble but “crit­i­cal” con­di­tion, his doc­tors said in a news con­fer­ence . ... For­mer two-divi­sion world champ James “Buddy” Mc­Girt was among nine peo­ple se­lected for in­duc­tion next year to the In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Hall of Fame. Mc­Girt, 54, re­tired in 1997 with a record of 73-6-1 with 48 KOs, and since has trained five cham­pi­ons.

COL­LEGES: Ju­nior QB Kyler Mur­ray of Ok­la­homa, sopho­more QB Tua Tago­v­ailoa of Alabama and sopho­more QB Dwayne Hask­ins Jr. of Ohio State were named fi­nal­ists for The AP foot­ball player of the year award, which will be an­nounced Thurs­day. Mur­ray, Tago­v­ailoa and Hask­ins also are fi­nal­ists for the Heis­man Tro­phy, which will be awarded Satur­day in New York . ... Colorado hired Mel Tucker as its coach. Tucker, 46, who spent the last three sea­sons as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at Ge­or­gia and had the same job with the NFL’s Browns, Bears and Jaguars, will re­ceive a fiveyear, $14.75 mil­lion con­tract . ... For­mer Texas Tech coach Kliff Kings­bury was of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and QBs coach at South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Kings­bury, 39, spent the last six sea­sons at his alma mater be­fore he was fired Nov. 25 after the Red Raiders fin­ished 5-7 . ... For­mer Clem­son QB Kelly Bryant an­nounced Tues­day night on Twit­ter that he will trans­fer to Mis­souri. Bryant will be el­i­gi­ble to play next sea­son as a grad­u­ate stu­dent . ... The NCAA im­posed two years of pro­ba­tion on Ore­gon after find­ing the school vi­o­lated rules re­lated to the men’s and women’s bas­ket­ball teams and the track and field pro­gram.

GYM­NAS­TICS: USA Gym­nas­tics filed a Chap­ter 11 bank­ruptcy pe­ti­tion in In­di­anapo­lis as it at­tempts to reach set­tle­ments in the dozens of sex-abuse law­suits it faces and to fore­stall its po­ten­tial demise at the hands of the U.S. Olympic Com­mit­tee.

SOC­CER: Josef Martinez won the MLS MVP award after break­ing the sea­son goals record and lead­ing At­lanta United to the cham­pi­onship game. Martinez, 25, scored 31 goals in 34 matches . ... Paris Saint-Ger­main ex­tended its un­beaten streak in Ligue 1 matches to 16 but still had to set­tle for a 1-1 draw with host Stras­bourg. After its sec­ond straight draw, PSG holds a 14-point lead over sec­ond-place Lille.

WNBA: The Sparks hired Derek Fisher as their coach. Fisher, 44, played on five NBA cham­pi­onship teams and was coach of the Knicks for one-plus sea­son.

MIKE STOCKER/SUN SEN­TINEL

Dwyane Wade be­lieves the Heat grow com­pla­cent when­ever they have any suc­cess.

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