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Heat's Wade scores 55 in Knicks' 50th loss

MIAMI - Dwyane Wade got his 50, and so did the Knicks.

After Kobe Bryant rang up 61 points on them at the Garden on Feb. 2 and LeBron James followed that up with 52 points two nights later, the trilogy of MVP candidates was completed last night with a career-high 55 points by Dwyane Wade in the Knicks' 122-105 loss to the Heat at American Airlines Arena.

It clinched the second straight 50-loss season for the Knicks (31-50) and third in four seasons.

Late in the game, Wade wandered over to Mike D'Antoni, a fellow member of last summer's gold medal-winning "Redeem Team" at the Beijing Olympics, and patted the shoulder of the weary Knicks coach. "You can't be this good," D'Antoni told him with a grin.

He then offered his congratulations and praised Wade for his amazing comeback this season after a pair of injury-plagued years. "I told him 'thank you' for him and the coaching staff this summer helping me get my confidence back and believing in me," Wade said. "We shared a quick Olympic moment."

Despite 27 points at the half by Wade, the Knicks actually led this game early in the third, just before Wade's explosion. It was close until Wade drained back-to-back three-pointers in the final two minutes to give the Heat a 95-87 lead.

Yet it was the help from Wade's supporting cast - rookie Michael Beasley had a completely overlooked 28 points and 16 rebounds - that broke the game open in the fourth quarter with a 21-8 run. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called Wade to the bench with 1:06 left with chants of "MVP" roaring through the building.

Wade shot 19-for-30 from the floor, including 6-for-12 from three-point range, and had nine rebounds and four assists in 39:17. His point total fell one point shy of the franchise record set by Glen Rice against Orlando in 1995. Spoelstra placed more importance on his star's health. "He's broken every other record," he said. "Let's leave one of them to Glen Rice."

Al Harrington and Wilson Chandler each had 21 points for the Knicks. David Lee added 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Raptors' victory over the 76ers last night meant something for the Knicks as well, because it moved them back into the eighth slot in the lottery standings. That means one more fateful pingpong ball to possibly land a Blake Griffin. Or maybe even UConn's Hasheem Thabeet?

The 7-3 junior, who is expected to declare for the NBA draft and could be a lottery pick, attended the Heat's 122-105 victory over the Knicks last night and enjoyed Dwyane Wade's 55-point show.

"Just to experience this," Thabeet, a junior, said as he headed for the exit, "it was fun."

Thabeet said he will meet with coach Jim Calhoun today to discuss his future. Asked which way he may be leaning, he smiled and said, "I don't know."


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