By Tom Withers
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CLEVELAND _ Dwayne Wade’s left knee is only sore, nothing seriously damaged.
Miami’s playoff push hobbles along.
Wade bruised his knee in the first half, but the Heat’s post-season chances may have avoided a devastating blow despite a 114-88 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.
Wade got hurt in the second quarter and Miami, which has been ravaged by injuries this season, didn’t have the firepower to stop the Cavs, who got 23 points apiece from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and won their 17th straight at home.
Following the game, a relieved Wade stood at his locker and said he banged the inside of his knee when he hit the floor. However, he expects to play again.
“It could have been worse,” Wade said.
Wade got hurt when his right knee buckled while he drove the right side. The three-time NBA champion crumpled to the floor with his left knee bending awkwardly. With Wade on his back, the Cavs stole the ball, and as play continued on the other end, the 33-year-old remained on the floor.
“When you go down like that, I couldn’t bust into a split, I’m not that flexible,” Wade said, forcing a smile. “I knew I was in trouble on my way down. It’s just unfortunate. Nothing happened I guess. I was a little concerned. Once they did the tests on my knee to make sure all my ligaments were strong and straightened, it’s a little better.”
Wade will receive more treatment on Friday, and hopes he’ll play Saturday when the Heat visit the Detroit Pistons _ another key game as they try to lock up a playoff spot.
“I’ll get treatment around the clock,” said Wade, who had his left knee drained on Saturday and has spent the past two seasons managing knee issues. “Hope to get it a little better. We’ll see when Saturday comes. If I’m good enough to go, of course, I will. If I’m not, I’ll see Sunday.”
The Heat dropped into a tie for eighth place with idle Boston in the Eastern Conference standings. The four-time defending conference champions can’t afford to be without Wade, their leading scorer and undisputed leader. Miami is already missing All-Star forward Chris Bosh (blood clots) and the club has been besieged by several other injuries in its first season without James.
“Story of the season,” Wade said of Miami’s medical woes, “and it continues.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was afraid Wade’s injury was severe.
“It looked like it was a lot worse,” he said. “It looked like he was doing the splits.”
Tristan Thompson added 15 rebounds for Cleveland, a league-best 30-7 since Jan. 15. Iman Shumpert added 17 points for the Cavs, who played without starting forward Kevin Love. He sat out with a sore back after being elbowed in Sunday’s win over Philadelphia.
Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside each scored 17 for Miami.
Despite losing Wade, the Heat were still within 11 late in the third quarter before the Cavs scored eight straight, capped by J.R. Smith’s 3-pointer in the final seconds to take a 91-72 lead.
With his first basket _ fittingly a short hook shot in the lane _ James passed Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing (24,815 points) for 20th place on the NBA’s career scoring list. Next up for the 30-year-old James, who has averaged at least 25 points in each of the past 10 seasons, is Jerry West (25,192).
Earlier this season, James passed Robert Parrish, Charles Barkley, Ray Allen and Allen Iverson _ players he idolized as a kid.
“It’s an honour,” James said. “When I was growing up and seeing these guys and you hope that one day you could play in the NBA and seeing what Pat and those guys did in the ’90s with that New York Knick team. He was the cornerstone of the whole thing.”
Heat: Miami was without Udonis Haslem, who missed his second straight game with the stomach flu. “Haslem is here,” Spoelstra, who thought he might be in for a fight to keep the Heat’s co-captain out. “I may have to use my boxing gloves.”… Spoelstra said F Josh McRoberts, out for the season after having knee surgery in December, is travelling with the team but hasn’t begun basketball activities. … Miami has used a team record-tying 30 lineups this season.
Cavaliers: Cleveland’s team record for consecutive home wins is 23, set during the 2008-09 season. … NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke at the Cavs’ annual corporate partner summit during the afternoon. … James Jones replaced Love and made his second start this season.
Heat: At Detroit on Saturday.
Cavaliers: Host Chicago on Sunday.