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Sunday, April 8, 2007
Wade on active roster for Heat after missing 23 games

Associated Press

MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade is back on the floor with the Miami Heat, just in time for the defending NBA champions to begin gearing up for the playoffs.

Wearing a black sleeve to help protect his dislocated left shoulder, Wade returned to the Heat lineup against Charlotte on Sunday, playing for the first time since suffering the injury on Feb. 21 and missing 23 games.
Dwyane Wade, opting for an extensive shoulder rehab rather than season-ending surgery, was back in a Heat uniform.

He entered with 3:58 left in the first quarter, was met with a high-five from teammate Eddie Jones, and fans roared when he rose from the bench to check into the game. He scored his first point with 53.9 seconds left in the period, making the second of two free throws.

Wade has been rehabbing for about a month and returned to practice with the team last week. Dorell Wright was inactive, making room for the reigning NBA finals MVP on the active 12-man roster.

Shortly before taking the court for warmups, Wade was smiling broadly outside the Heat locker room as several teammates rubbed his head. After running onto the floor pregame, Wade waved at a courtside fan who held up three fingers in a nod to his jersey number.

He missed six weeks -- and since season-ending surgery seemed like a viable option in the days immediately following the injury, the Heat had to have been thrilled to get him back so soon.

The Heat held a walkthrough session about two hours before tip-off against the Bobcats. Wade participated in that and, shortly afterward, the team decided to place him on the active list for Sunday.

Wade was not available for comment before the game, and Heat coach Pat Riley said in his pregame availability that Wade would be a "game-time" decision.

"When he comes back, he's going to be a player," Riley said Sunday.

A week ago, Wade said that he hoped to play in "a game or two" before the playoffs open on the weekend of April 21, but later suggested that he would like to play in more games -- provided his shoulder responded well to practices and contact.

Without Wade, the Heat rallied from a team on the playoff bubble to one in control of the Southeast Division race; they entered Sunday three games ahead of reeling Washington for the division title. Miami was 16-7 since Wade got hurt, including a nine-game winning streak.