By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade got a hug from his close friend LeBron James before the game, a milestone in the third quarter, a rest for the entire fourth quarter and an easy win to enjoy when it was over.
That’s a night to savor.
Wade scored 24 points and became the 41st player in NBA history to reach 20,000, rookie Josh Richardson added 19 and the Miami Heat led wire-to-wire on their way to beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 122-101 on Saturday.
"I’ve been through a lot of adversity," Wade said. "I’ve had a lot of injuries in my career that a lot of people would never have come back from — and I have, and I continue to keep going, 13 years later. And I thank my teammates, the ones that are here and the ones that aren’t here, because to get 20,000-plus points you’ve got to shoot a lot of shots."
Goran Dragic had 18 points and 11 assists for Miami, Joe Johnson also scored 18 and Hassan Whiteside finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Miami led outrebounded Cleveland 42-26 and led by a season-high 33 at one point.
James had 26 points for Cleveland and sat out the final 15 minutes, the outcome already decided when his night came to an early end. Richard Jefferson scored 20 and Kyrie Irving had 14 for the Cavaliers.
"I think the pace, we couldn’t keep up with it tonight," James said. "Whether it was our fifth game in seven nights, we couldn’t keep up with their pace."
Cleveland had one real burst during the game, an 11-0 run in the second quarter that cut a 15-point Heat lead down to 40-36. Other than that, it was all Miami.
Richardson continued his brilliant play of late, the rookie making all three of his 3-point tries in the second quarter to help Miami take control for good. Wade went into the locker room at halftime with 19,997 career points, and the only drama at that point was when he would get the milestone basket.
The answer came quickly.
Wade, who came into the game 13 shy of the milestone, scored a minute into the third to get to 19,999, then got a short floater in the lane to drop moments later. He got a standing ovation at the next dead ball, and a video tribute later in the quarter.
"It was great to see," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "You don’t want to be so jaded in this business that you don’t take time to recognize the special moments. Dwyane’s the face of the franchise. He’s done what he’s been able to do at a high level, for a long time, consistently."
The Cavs were befuddled all night. About 90 minutes before the game, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said center Timofey Mozgov would be in the Cavs’ starting lineup. Sometime in the next 45 minutes Lue apparently changed his mind, starting Kevin Love at center instead and not playing Mozgov at all until benches were cleared early in the fourth quarter.
Love was on the bench with two fouls before the game was 3 1/2 minutes old, the Cavaliers surrounded James with four guards during one stretch of the half and nothing really worked. Miami’s lead was 31-19 after a quarter, 65-44 at the half, and Love finished with just seven points in 16 minutes.
"They play well at home," Lue said. "With LeBron coming back here they get up for this game and we’ve got to start getting up for these games also."
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