Wednesday , Mar , 16 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Dwyane Wade is a superstar

There is no doubt that Miami’s Dwyane Wade is a bonafide superstar.

The 23-year-old All-Star guard came through once again in the clutch for the Heat, as he drained a long jumper at the buzzer to give Miami a 98-96 victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. Wade’s game- winning shot gave the Heat their 50th victory of the campaign and clinched the season’s first NBA playoff spot.

Dwyane Wade is a superstar

“I knew I was going to shoot at the buzzer,” said Wade after Tuesday’s win. “I just took whatever he (Trevor Ariza) gave me. He (Ariza) didn’t give me the drive so I took the jumper.”

Wade finished with a team-high 24 points and five assists in 39 minutes of action against New York, while teammate and fellow All-Star Shaquille O’Neal contributed 23 points and seven rebounds in the victory.

“He (Wade) is a great player,” said O’Neal. “We always get the ball in his hands at the end of games. He really wasn’t in the flow during the game. We had a chance to win it and he won it for us. He had a turnover and he was pretty mad at himself. I told him to not worry about. I told him that we were going to get a stop and get the ball back. For a youngster he has a lot of poise. Too much poise.”

The 6-4 Wade was 8-of-15 from the field and 7-for-8 from the foul line against the Knicks. He knocked down his only three-point attempt, but did commit four turnovers.

“He (Wade) didn’t have one of his greater nights,” said Miami head coach Stan Van Gundy. “He was frustrated with a couple of things, still you look at his numbers he had a high (field goal) percentage and had the play of the game.”

With Tuesday’s victory, Miami reached the 50-win plateau for just the fifth time in franchise history. The Heat won a franchise-best 61 games in 1996-97, while they won 55 in 1997-98,52 in 1999-2000 and 50 in 2000-01.

Wade, who scored 14 points in his first NBA All-Star Game this season at the Pepsi Center, is not afraid to take the big shot in a critical point of a game. In last year’s playoffs, Wade, who was a rookie and was playing in his first-ever NBA playoff game, knocked down a a short jumper from inside the paint with 1.3 seconds remaining, lifting the Heat to an 81-79 victory over the New Orleans Hornets at AmericanAirlines Arena in the opener of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals matchup. The shot proved to be huge, as Miami went on to defeat the Hornets in seven games.

Originally drafted out of Marquette by Miami in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2003 NBA Draft, Wade, who averaged 16.2 points and 4.5 assists in 61 games for the Heat in 2003-04, has been awesome this season. He leads the Heat in scoring (23.8 ppg) and assists (7.0 apg) and is also averaging a respectable 5.2 rebounds per game.

This season, Wade has registered double-digits in scoring in 61 of the 62 games he has played in. He has scored 20 or more points in 46 of those contests and has played 30 or more minutes 58 games.

Yes, O’Neal, who was acquired in a blockbuster trade from the Los Angeles Lakers last offseason, has made a huge difference for not only the team but in particular the Marquette product. The 7-1 center has opened up the floor for Wade, who can breakdown any defender with his quickness. Shaq also opens up the perimeter for Wade, who is shooting over 30 percent from beyond the arc.

The duo of O’Neal and Wade, who has registered 14 double-doubles and one triple-double this season, has lived up to the hype. They have given the Heat everything that they were hoping for when they brought Shaq to Miami. The tandem has become the most potent one-two punch in the league and has the fans in Miami thinking championship.

Wade has it all. He is a high-flying guard who plays solid defense, can score from anywhere on the court and makes all of his teammates better with his play-making ability. The All-Star guard is ready to help lead the Heat to their first appearance in the NBA Finals.

The Heat are lucky to have this superstar on their roster!