MIAMI — Dwyane Wade was on the floor early, well before tipoff.
And that's always a tipoff.
Because even though the Miami Heat All-Star guard has now reached 600 career games played when counting Monday night's 124-99 victory over the Phoenix Suns at AmericanAirlines Arena, he appreciates that sometimes you have to go back to school.
So after scoring 15 and 14 points, respectively, in the previous two games, a blowout road loss to the New York Knicks and a home escape against the Denver Nuggets, Wade went through a pregame tutorial with assistant coach David Fizdale, working on the jumper that hadn't been working, the fast-twitch moves that lately hadn't been all that spry.
But with Monday a night for milestone moments, that 600th career NBA game for Wade, and anniversaries, exactly 24 years from when the Heat first took the court as an NBA expansion franchise in 1988, Wade offered a reminder of who he still can be.
By itself, his 22-point performance hardly was overwhelming, nothing like the 40-point performance Chris Bosh put together in Saturday's victory over Denver, but it was an efficient exhibition of how Wade now can settle in as a supportive piece to Bosh, who scored 18, and LeBron James, who closed with 23 points.
"Dwyane was active tonight," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He set the tone with his quick twitch on both ends of the court. You saw he had some good life. He's spending a lot of time putting his body in position to respond."
In many ways, this is where Wade stands as he approaches his 31st birthday in January. He still has a tendency to fade in and out of dominance, but he's not ever going to allow anyone to forget.
"He might not have the nights where he's needed to score 35, 40 points," Spoelstra said. "But the opportunities he has, he can generate a lot of easy opportunities for us."
So during the opening week of the season, Wade watched as Ray Allen emerged as the Heat's shooting guard of the moment, as James filled the stat columns, and as Bosh had his ultimate Heat moment Saturday.
And then he sized up the Suns, a team that is of the belief that former Heat first-round pick Michael Beasley can be their featured scorer and that Goran Dragic somehow can serve as a replacement for Steve Nash.
"I wanted to go out there early and get a feel for the rims," Wade said of his extra pregame work. "Then I was just trying to go quick, and decisive."
By the time Wade was done being quick and decisive, he was 9 of 14 from the field, 3 for 3 from the line and 1 of 1 on 3-pointers in 28 highly-efficient minutes that included six assists.
"It's still early on," Spoelstra said. "The point of this team, the versatility and the depth, it could be a different guy every night."
Teammate Mario Chalmers said Wade had the look of someone who wanted this to be one of his nights.
"He picks and chooses his moments great," Chalmers said.
By the time James was pounding dunks in the third period, this was the bloodbath expected for an opponent that lost on the road to the Orlando Magic a night earlier.
It wasn't just Wade who pushed the easy button.
It was Chalmers reaching double digits in assists before the end of the third quarter, on the way to 11.
It was James adding 11 rebounds against a team lacking anything resembling the length that the Nuggets offered Saturday night.
And it was Allen making his first three 3-pointers, because if you're going to leave him open in the left corner, that's what you're going to get. Just ask the Nuggets. Allen's 12th point gave him 23,000 for his career, making him the fourth active player to reach that milestone. He closed with 15.
In many ways it was a 3-for-all for the Heat, closing 15 of 26 from beyond the arc, with eight Heat players converting at least one 3-pointer and five at least two, including forward James Jones, who appeared in his 500th career game.
Speaking of milestones, Bosh recorded his 700th career block in the game, the second of his two.
The best news? The Heat get the Suns again in just over the week, at the close of a six-game trip.
By then former Heat coach Alvin Gentry likely will still be on the Suns' sidelines, considering the roster he has been handed this season. But whether he can stomach another game against the Heat is another story.
Beasley opened 1 of 6 and closed 3 of 12 for seven points, his defense arguably worse than his offense. He added all of one rebound and one assist.
And there wasn't much that was better for the Suns, save for center Marcin Gortat closing with 12 points and 13 rebounds and guard Shannon Brown adding 18 points off the bench.
Latest Sports Headlines
LeBron James powered Miami to a frantic fourth-quarter rally and overtime escape in Game 6 as the Heat beat the Spurs 103-100 on Tuesday night to extend the NBA Finals.