Dwyane Wade won't play vs. Lakers

MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade has resumed a conditioning and rehabilitation program on his troublesome knees and will miss his fourth consecutive game Thursday when the Miami Heat host the Los Angeles Lakers.

Wade, who worked out Thursday, has already missed 12 games this season and hasn't played since Friday.

"Heat Nation does not need to be panicked," coach Erik Spoelstra said during Thursday's shootaround. "In terms of Dwyane's health, we've said it time and time again: It's going to be a process. There's absolutely no way I'm going [to look] days ahead.

"I know he's feeling much better today to be in there working. That's a good sign. We'll see how he feels tomorrow. Maybe he'll do a little bit more."

Spoelstra wouldn't confirm if Wade had a setback in his recovery from an offseason knee procedure, but he said a grueling stretch of games in a short period of time over the past three weeks caused some wear and tear on Wade's body.

The Heat played a stretch of 11 of 14 games on the road before returning home Tuesday for a four-game homestand. Overall, the Heat have played 15 games in 28 days.

Wade last played during the Heat's win in Philadelphia on Friday, when he missed 7 of 11 shots, scored just eight points and appeared sluggish on defense. That came two days after Wade scored eight points and seemed a step slow during a blowout loss in Washington.

Spoelstra said Wade wasn't sure at what point in either of those games he may have tweaked something.

Wade has had either surgery or noninvasive medical procedures on both knees over the past two years, but he's been bothered most recently by bone bruises on his right kneecap sustained last spring.

Wade had offseason shock-wave therapy treatment on the right knee. The full recovery process, during which he was allowed to play, was expected to take about six months before he regained full strength and comfort in the knee.

There was one setback in mid-November as Wade tried to play both games of a back-to-back and ended up leaving the Nov. 16 game in Charlotte in the third quarter. Wade missed the following week to focus exclusively on his training and rehab.

Spoelstra said the recent schedule kept Wade away from the specific program and equipment he normally uses in Miami during the rehabilitation process. The Heat are now home for the rest of the month and don't play another road game until Feb. 1 against the Knicks.

"Look, the schedule is not an excuse," Spoelstra said. "It just was a little bit of a bizarre schedule, where we were out on the road and we had no time with our equipment. He's in there working out, which is a great sign.

"... We knew it would be a process. Not every day is going to feel the same. But we're back home and he's back on the routine. We'll get him back feeling good, and just continue to hopefully make steps forward."

Wade's health is one of the biggest questions facing the Heat in their quest to become the fourth franchise in NBA history to win three consecutive titles. Miami is 6-6 this season without Wade, but he's played relatively well when he's been available.

Wade is shooting a career-high 54.0 percent from the field while averaging 18.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 33.3 minutes a game this season.

"It is difficult to build a rhythm without being whole," center Chris Bosh said Thursday. "We just really have to wing it and compete and make sure we're playing good defense to give ourselves a chance."

LeBron James has said not having Wade available on a regular basis has been a tougher challenge to overcome this season.

"I can say from a rhythm standpoint, it's kind of hurt us," James said after Tuesday's game against Boston. "And we're a team that's built on rhythm, built on chemistry, and we've had so many lineup changes, so many different guys in and out with injuries that it's kind of hurt our performance."

James also said the team might be better off psychologically if they prepared for games with the mindset that Wade won't play and adjust if he does play, instead of the other way around.

Spoelstra said such an approach "might not be realistic," but agreed that the earlier that teammates know Wade's status for games, the better they'd be prepared.

"If we know," Spoelstra said. "But sometimes we don't. Sometimes he's warming up with the intent to play. That's the way this team is built. The quicker we understand that and embrace that, the quicker we can manage it."