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Tip-In: D-Wade's World

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In the midst of all the Steve Nash/Kobe Bryant MVP talk, Dwyane Wade has maybe taken a backseat in the race. However as much as I believe that Nash is deserving of his second straight trophy, Dwyane Wade's case just became a lot stronger in the mind of this writer after his performance last night. In spite of all the talented players playing in the NBA right now, it's possible that with the exception of Kobe and Lebron, it's D-Wade's World...the rest of the league just plays in it.

As an example of this Wade almost single-handedly kept the Miami Heat in last night's match against the Raptors before pulling out his full array of moves eventually leading the Heat to a 98-94 comeback win.

The fact that I'm even writing about this outcome is frustrating beyond words. Toronto had a 16 point lead at half-time and right up until the fourth quarter were on cruise control. The Raptors were scoring inside (the Heat were without both Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning), getting out on the break, aggressively driving to the rim and making passes to find open shooters. Even in the third quarter they continued this play but Wade kept Miami within firing distance.

And than the fourth quarter hit. Just having to rethink the atrocities displayed by Toronto tonight in this quarter on BOTH the offensive and defensive ends is enough to make me want to run out and buy a Mourning jersey in a moment of hysterics. Wade scored 10 straight points allowing the Heat to go on a 16 to four run to close out the quarter resulting in the win and the Raptors crumbled in the crunch once again.

But it was not simply Toronto's inability to stop Wade that was so confounding...no, it was the sudden relegation of the entire squad to shooting only three-point shots! What happened to getting to the free throw line? How about feeding the post? It's just unbelievable that despite out-playing the heat in almost every statistical category last night this team lost...and this is almost completely due to shot selection in the fourth quarter. In fact as an example, the Raptors shot-chart read like this from about five minutes to about three minutes remaining in the game:

Morris Peterson misses three point jumper

Mike James misses 19-foot jumper

Eric Williams misses three point jumper

Mike James misses 23-foot jumper...

...are we seeing a pattern yet?

Before you could say "Hoffa had his best game of the season," the lead was gone, the Heat were ahead, and the game was over.

Oh...did I mention Hoffa? In now what seems like so little solace considering the game's outcome, Toronto fans finally got a glimpse of the player former GM Rob Babcock may have believed he was drafting nearly two years ago. A block, some solid defense including taking a charge, some nice pivot moves in the paint and numerous hustle plays in a span of only about 10 minutes finally gave a sold-out Air Canada Centre a reason not to boo the former first-round pick.

But little solace indeed...with Chris Bosh out of the line-up indefinitely with a thumb injury, Hoffa's play combined with another great all-around game from Morris Peterson (28 points on 11 for 20 shooting) wasn't enough and in the end, this game goes down for Raptor fans as another in the long line of "games there's no way we should have lost."

FRANCHISE