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Shumpert already wearing down

Iman Shumpert celebrates after his steal led to

Iman Shumpert celebrates after his steal led to a basket in the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers. (Jan. 11, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

HOUSTON -- Iman Shumpert is only 21 years old, but 20 games into his rookie season, he's already wearing down. Shumpert has had leg cramps, back issues and problems with both knees and one of his ankles. He wore braces over both knees Saturday night.

"He gets banged up a little bit," Mike D'Antoni said. "I just want to make sure he can recover. For a rookie, it's a rude awakening to come in and you're playing so many games. His athleticism has come down a little bit just because he's so banged up.''

Shumpert's play has dropped off, and for the first time in 13 games, he came off the bench Saturday night, although he did score 11 points.

After returning from a sprained knee, Shumpert worked his way into the starting lineup with his defense and energy. He's still defending, but he hasn't been effective offensively. In the past six games, he has shot 18-for-58 and averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 assists.Nice play, RookShumpert was paid a compliment by Heat superstar Dwyane Wade Friday night. But Shumpert's veteran teammates didn't realize that.

Shumpert chased down Wade, slapped the ball away to deny a fast-break dunk and was called for a foul. Wade went over and told Shumpert he had made a good play. But Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler thought Wade had taken exception to Shumpert's foul, and they jawed with him.

"He told me good block, good hustle," Shumpert said. "I guess it just looked bad, the way he came up to me. I guess they took it as he was trying to intimidate me so they all stepped in. But it was just a misunderstanding.''

"Just setting the tone," Stoudemire said. "We came to play. On the court, you've got to protect your rookie, that's first and foremost."

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