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Miami G Wade closing in on blocks milestone

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MIAMI (AP) - It has happened more times than even Dwyane Wade can remember.

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Someone gets the ball down low against the Miami Heat, leaps to attempt a dunk - and gets the ball swatted away by Wade, who still finds a way to catch even significantly taller NBA players by surprise with one of his signature talents.

Carlos Boozer, Tyson Chandler, Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Brook Lopez, Carmelo Anthony, even current teammate Chris Bosh ... Wade's blocked them all, and before too long, he'll be able to say there's never been any player at his size better at blocking shots. Wade has 671 blocks in his career, four shy of matching Dennis Johnson's career mark for players listed at 6-foot-4 or shorter.

''I always take pride in that category,'' Wade said. ''It's something I can call my own hopefully one day, at least for a little while.''

Maybe for more than a little while. Johnson had the 675 blocks, Wade is next on the list, and next up is current Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd with 450. David Thompson had 407 and Baron Davis had 360 in his career, so clearly, no one will be catching Wade anytime soon.

And forget the height disclaimer on this part of the Wade accomplishment: According to STATS LLC, he's the only guard in NBA history averaging 1.0 blocks per game in his career. Wade's 671 blocks have come in 670 games; the only contemporary on that list is Reggie Lewis, who blocked 417 shots in his 450 NBA games, an average of 0.93 per game.

Other guard-forwards, such as Julius Erving, blocked more than Wade. But among pure guards, he's the only one at his block party.

''You have to have so many things in your package to be able to do that,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ''First you have to have great anticipation. You have to have the gifts to be able to do it, the athleticism, the timing, the length. Then you have to have the fearlessness. He's got the entire package in terms of that and that's probably the most understated part of it, the fearlessness to go up against 7-footers without feeling sorry for himself.''

No one wants to be the guy who gets dunked on, like Brandon Knight and Jason Terry, who had the misfortune last season to be on the beaten end of two of the league's more memorable dunks - thrown down by DeAndre Jordan and LeBron James, respectively.

Wade doesn't worry about it. It's happened. It will happen again.

''I'm just fearless,'' Wade said. ''I'm a fearless player. That doesn't come in the mindset of myself. As somebody who has the ability to block shots, you (can't) be worrying about getting dunked on. No one wants to get dunked on, but you can't have fears about making the best play for your team and trying to be a game changer.''

Wade doesn't remember them all, of course.

Bosh remembers the game where Wade got him. To this day, Bosh contends he was fouled as well.

''He's made some great plays, always on that back side,'' Bosh said. ''He's a sneaky guy. I think when I was in Toronto he got me on a turnaround jump shot and I didn't even know where he came from. He's got those abnormally long arms for a person his size. He's got big hands. He's a quick jumper and he just has great timing. He's got a very good knack for that.''

It's all part of an often-overlooked commitment to defense.

Wade - who has above-average hand size and wingspan - has 1,193 steals to go along with the blocks in his career. Starting from when he entered the league, four players have more steals and 32 have more blocks, but no one has more of both.

''When he gets in those moments, he becomes much larger than his frame,'' Spoelstra said. ''That's a hard thing to explain. You just see it.''

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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