Losing star guard Dwyane Wade doesn’t bode well for a Miami Heat team that already has the league’s worst record. The return of the New York Knicks’ top two scorers, meanwhile, didn’t help them avoid a seventh straight loss.
The Heat will likely be hampered again by a depleted roster Wednesday night when they host the Knicks, who are coming off one of their worst losses of the season despite the return of Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph.
Miami (11-51) lost its first game after shutting down Wade for the season, falling 99-98 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.
Wade, who will miss the remaining 20 games due to pain in his surgically repaired left knee, is the third Heat player out for the season because of injuries. Alonzo Mourning and forward Dorell Wright both had season-ending knee surgeries, and forward Udonis Haslem (ankle), guard Marcus Banks (hamstring) and center Earl Barron (knee) are all nicked up.
Miami had an NBA-minimum eight players at its disposal against the Clippers as it lost its fifth straight.
“You’ve just got to fight through this,” said Heat guard Daequan Cook, who started in place of Wade and had a career-high 23 points. “It’s about progressing and learning from stuff like this. It’s more of a learning process now for all of us.”
Cook is one of several players who will get more playing time. The rookie, the 21st pick in last year’s draft, has played in two straight games after beginning March with the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League. Cook is averaging 7.5 points and has made 90.2 percent of his free throws, but is shooting 38.0 percent from the floor in 41 games.
“I told him that every time he gets a look to shoot that thing,” Miami forward Shawn Marion said of Cook. “I think he just has to stay aggressive. … When he gets more comfortable on the floor, I think he’ll be good.”
Another Heat roster spot opened up Monday when guard Smush Parker was waived nearly 3 1/2 months after he got into an altercation with a female valet parking attendant. Coach Pat Riley is considering signing someone to a 10-day contract, and one possibility is guard Brian Chase, who was with Miami in training camp last fall.
New York’s lineup, meanwhile, got a boost Monday night with the return of Crawford and Randolph, but the Knicks lost 108-79 to Dallas. New York gave up 32 points in the first quarter, while scoring 31 in the first half.
The Knicks shot 1-for-13 from the field in the first quarter and trailed by 28 before halftime en route to their seventh straight loss, one shy of matching their longest skid of the season. They have lost eight straight twice.
Randolph, who had missed the previous five games because of a bruised foot and personal reasons, finished with 21 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Crawford, who was sidelined only one game because of a bruised right hand, had 13 points.
“I actually felt pretty good,” said Randolph, averaging 17.5 points and a team-best 10.2 rebounds a contest. “I felt better than I thought I would.”
Crawford tops the Knicks with 20.6 points and 5.0 assists per game. The veteran guard is averaging 17.5 points while shooting 33.3 percent (11-for-33) from the field in two games versus the Heat this season. Miami and New York split those contests, with each team winning on the road.