MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade simply needed it.
Yes, even a future Hall of Famer with three championship rings, nearly 19,000 career points and a dozen All-Star appearances has those kick-the-tire moments at this stage of his career. Through their first 10 games this season, the Miami Heat were a team that largely operated by committee.
Wade led the way through the first five. Then he gradually faded and deferred.
On Thursday night, he was determined to dictate again.
There was only one problem with Wade's sentiment. This wasn't an opportunity that knocked on his door. He aggressively kicked it in and made it known as early as the team's Thursday morning shootaround that this would be a moment when he needed to take charge.
So two nights after he insisted he wouldn't "shoot 20 times a game" in an attempt to shake out of his mini slump, Wade proceeded to fire up a game-high 23 shots on the way to leading the Heat with 24 points, six assists and five rebounds in 31 minutes against the Kings.
And after emerging from Tuesday's loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves frustrated that he didn't get to the line to attempt a single free throw, Wade drew a technical foul early in Thursday's game after he voiced his frustrations with what he felt was a missed call when he drove to the basket. Wade ended up making four of six attempts from the line, including a trip in which he got away with sarcastically applauding the foul call that sent him there as he walked to the line.
"It wasn't necessarily part of the game plan, but he just brought a really focused, intense approach to shootaround," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wade. "He was going full speed while everybody else was going about 80 percent. The approach he brought this morning ... we saw carry over to tonight."
A defiant D-Wade is a productive D-Wade. And the Heat needed every ounce of his attitude and aggression to regroup from an embarrassing finish against Minnesota to hold off the Kings, who were without suspended star DeMarcus Cousins and lost Rudy Gay to a shoulder injury in the third quarter.
The Heat moved to 7-4 overall and 4-1 on a season-long, seven-game homestand that wraps up with visits from the Sixers on Saturday and the Knicks on Monday. It wasn't inconceivable that the Heat could sweep their way through the stretch. But then came the meltdown Tuesday, when Miami surrendered 41 points in the fourth quarter, committed 21 turnovers and missed 16 free throws in a 12-point loss.
Wade missed eight of his 13 shots that night to extend a drastic dip in production in which he averaged just 10.7 points and shot 32.7 percent from the field over four games. Wade bemoaned the fact that he hadn't been getting as many opportunities in the offense since he opened the season by scoring at least 20 points in five consecutive games to mark his best start since the 2009-10 season.
He denied that there was anything wrong with his health, considering the drop-off started during a Nov. 6 loss at Indiana, where he had a season-low nine points after playing a second game in as many nights. Wade also dismissed the decrease in production as a concern, and mentioned that he sat out most or all of the fourth quarters of two of those four games because of double-digit leads.
But beneath those answers, it was easy to sense that Wade was bothered.
"Watching film, I felt like I was getting great opportunities [but] I just felt I needed to get aggressive offensively," said Wade, who had 12 shots in the first half and 11 in the second. "Sometimes, I get into the mode of too much playmaking and maybe my shot became secondary. So I just decided to flip it."
Wade said teammate Chris Bosh was first to crack on him in the locker room for taking a season-high 23 shots. Wade's response to Bosh: "I said I was going for 25 [attempts] if I had a few more seconds."
Bosh joked Wade should be required to get 10 assists on nights he arbitrarily decides to shoot 20 times.
"He needs to get into a rhythm, so he was attacking and we liked every shot that he shot," said Bosh, who added 23 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. "To get [Wade] involved again like that and to get him into a rhythm is very crucial for this team."
The Heat are still very much a team trying to figure out what works on a nightly basis. They've been impacted by disruptions along the way, with a trade two weeks ago that sent Mario Chalmers to Memphis and top-scoring reserve Gerald Green missing six games due to illnesses and a suspension. Spoelstra continues to tinker with his rotation, and the game plan has called for Bosh or center Hassan Whiteside to garner more attention on offense to balance out Miami's attack.
But eventually, it all gets back to Wade and his comfort level with the program.
"That's what it's about," Bosh said. "We have to figure things out collectively as a team. As the season goes on, those are conversations that we have. We make sure we talk and cater to each other's needs. That's what it's going to take to get us to the next level, but I feel we're on the right path."
Through nine games, Wade is shooting a career-low 42.6 percent and the 17.1 points he's averaging are the fewest since his rookie season. Wade, who turns 34 in January, buys into that collective approach. But there are times when he still needs to collect himself and get back to his natural role.
"No doubt," Wade said. "There are certain moments you come out -- and I'm a playmaker -- but I've been a scorer my whole life. I like to give my team that. I've been having great days, great workouts and felt that [a breakout game] has got to be [coming]. I'm thinking, 'It didn't happen last game, but it's got to be tonight.' And hopefully, you can get on a streak and put some good games together."
In times like this, Wade is determined to make a point.
Even if it takes 23 shots to get it across clearly.