Miami’s Dwyane Wade has a rough afternoon
Dwyane Wade walked to the bench and draped a towel around his head, his expression blank.
He was no longer playing the Lakers, but a game of 18,997 on one, the Staples Center crowd showering the Miami Heat’s perceived villain with cheers for fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
Any worries about retaliation for Wade’s hard foul on Kobe Bryant in the All-Star game the previous week were gone now that the officials had delivered their own knockout.
Wade’s final four fouls came over a lightning-round span of 3 minutes 3 seconds in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ 93-83 victory Sunday, a fitting end to what had been a strange and disheartening afternoon for the star guard.
“I guess I had the red flag on me today,” Wade said.
He also appeared to be a magnet for flailing arms and other body parts, saying he was hit on the head a few times. That only added to a disappointing stat line: 16 points, five assists, five turnovers and one nagging headache.
Wade was a target of Lakers fans from the player introductions, being booed each time his name was mentioned or he stepped to the free-throw line. The anger stemmed from Wade’s smacking Bryant in the face in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 26, breaking the Lakers guard’s nose and ushering in the Mask Era that continued Sunday as Bryant wore the protective device for a third consecutive game and scored 33 points.
Wade apologized to Bryant, who said it was no big deal because his longtime friend meant no harm.
He certainly had trouble doing any damage Sunday. Wade airballed a 27-footer in the second quarter and watched another jumper deflect off the top of the backboard, his most egregious misses on a day when he made seven of 17 shots.
There was plenty of frustration to go around for Miami’s Big Three. Forward Chris Bosh missed the game after attending his grandmother’s funeral and forward LeBron James needed 26 shots to score 25 points.
But nothing was as maddening as Wade’s sequence of fourth-quarter fouls.
It started when he drove toward the basket and was called for kicking Andrew Bynum with 8:17 left. Wade’s fourth foul came 41 seconds later, when he charged into Steve Blake near the basket.
Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra said he considered taking Wade out as the fouls piled up but kept him in for needed offensive punch with the Heat trailing.
Wade collected his fifth foul with 6:15 remaining for bumping Bryant in the backcourt. His final foul would come with 5:14 left, when he collided with Bynum while trying to deflect a pass near the rim.
And so Wade was finished, his franchise streak of 258 consecutive games without fouling out over.
“There’s nothing you can say to him,” James said when asked how he supported his teammate. “He wants to be on the court.”
The Heat trailed, 79-72, when Wade departed and would come no closer the rest of the way.
In the locker room afterward, a cooling towel on his head, Wade refused to blame the officials for a forgettable afternoon.
“You’re not trying to get me to comment on a ref, are you?” he asked. “C’mon, I like my money in my pocket.”
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