After being sidelined for much of last season due to injuries, a healthy Dwyane Wade has helped the Miami Heat get off to a respectable start following a finish that tied the worst in franchise history.
Wade and the Heat look to continue their strong early play at home Monday when they face the New Jersey Nets, who will be without Devin Harris for the second straight game.
Wade played just 51 games in each of the last two seasons and was sorely missed in 2007-08, when the Heat (3-3) went 15-67 - tying the club's 1988-89 expansion season record.
Miami's start in 2008-09 hasn't been overly impressive, but Wade and the Heat appear to be heading in the right direction. Wade is averaging 26.2 points, 8.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds, and Miami is among the top 10 in the league in scoring defense at 93.8 points allowed per game.
The Heat have also looked good on their home court, dominating their first two games at AmericanAirlines Arena. Miami defeated Sacramento 103-77 on Oct. 31 and knocked off Philadelphia 106-83 on Wednesday.
The Heat, who had only nine wins at home last season, haven't started 3-0 in Miami since 1999-2000.
The Heat hope a return home will help them bounce back from their last game, a 100-89 loss to New Orleans on Saturday that kept them from winning three in a row for the first time in more than a year.
Miami trailed by as many as 17 points and couldn't get closer than seven in the final five minutes. Wade had 30 points after scoring 33 the night before in a win over the Spurs, and Chris Quinn added 14.
The Heat will be facing a Nets club that's coming off its lowest-scoring game of the season, a 98-80 defeat to Indiana on Saturday. New Jersey (2-3) played without starting point guard Harris, who's averaging 18.8 points and 4.8 assists but is now nursing a sprained ankle. He will miss this contest, and Nets coach Lawrence Frank said Monday there's "a pretty good chance" Harris will also miss Wednesday's home game against Indiana.
The Nets, winners of three straight in Miami, will start Keyon Dooling in Harris' place again after he scored 17 points Saturday.
Vince Carter led New Jersey with 31 points, but the Nets shot 24 percent from the field and managed just 29 points after the break. They led 51-49 after the second quarter.
Carter, averaging 21.8 points and 5.0 assists, was 11-of-22 from the floor while the rest of the team shot 34.0 percent (18-of-53).
"It puts more responsibility on me," Carter said of Harris being out. "But that's no excuse, either. This is a team game, and it's going to take a collective effort to win games.
"I forced my first couple shots in the second half, which is something I don't need to do. It starts with me just being a leader and taking good shots myself."
The Nets took two of three from the Heat last season.
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