MIAMI (AP) Dwyane Wade doesn't typically get off to super-fast starts, and one game is hardly enough to say that his 10th NBA campaign will be any different.
Still, opening night seemed to be a good sign.
Wade scored 29 points against Boston on Tuesday night, giving him the highest-scoring effort in the first game of any of his Miami Heat seasons less than four months after he had surgery to repair a long-troublesome left knee. And with LeBron James missing much of the second half with leg cramps, the Heat needed to Wade to deliver, which he did as the reigning champions opened with a 120-107 win.
``Way ahead of schedule,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wade, the 2006 NBA Finals MVP, who sat out the second day of training camp and missed little else. ``It was absolutely the right decision on his part this summer to take care of his knee with that procedure, and then he did his part of making sure he came into camp in the best condition he could.''
Before Tuesday, Wade's previous first-game-of-a-season high was 26 points. And he was thrilled not only to get his championship ring, but to put all the buildup of ring night behind him.
``Now we can focus in on getting better as a team,'' Wade said.
The Heat were off Wednesday, set to resume practice on Thursday before their scheduled flight to New York for a Friday night game against the Knicks. As of Wednesday afternoon, that game was still planned, even though the New York-Brooklyn game on Thursday had been postponed as the city continues dealing with the aftermath of the storm that slammed into the Northeast this week.
Wade scored nine of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Heat keep the Celtics - who nearly erased a 19-point deficit - at bay.
What the final quarter of Tuesday's game might be most remembered for, however, was how Celtics guard Rajon Rondo grabbed Wade around the neck on a drive in the final seconds, earning a flagrant foul and raising Miami's collective ire.
Wade called Rondo's move ``a punk play.''
``I'm here to play basketball,'' Wade said. ``It's what we are. We're basketball players. If you want to go do something else, then go do something else. Boxing and all those things, this is not it. We're basketball players here. I was glad I was able to stop myself in that very moment and move on from it. We'll see next time we play.''
James missed the final 9 minutes because of cramps in his left leg. He missed the final portion of the third quarter with the same problem in his right leg.
No problem. Wade took over the marquee role for much of the reigning MVP's absence, doing so, he said, at the insistence of Heat point guard Mario Chalmers.
``Just trying to be aggressive at times,'' Wade said. ``Got a couple opportunities. Mario kept telling me to get to the block, get to the block. They wanted to run the offense through me. It felt good, like old times again. I don't want LeBron leaving too many times. But it felt good to have kind of what I'm used to in the sense of guys coming to me at the end of games.''