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 SEATTLE (AP) -Pat Riley doesn't think it's fair to blame Dwyane Wade for the Miami Heat's problems this season, since the All-Star guard is coming back from offseason surgeries on his left knee and left shoulder.
``He definitely is not who he is, so let's face that,'' Riley said Friday. ``As we progress, I value Dwyane so much obviously as a person and as a player. He hasn't complained. He hasn't called anybody out. He hasn't demanded to be traded. He hasn't quit on his team. He goes out there and tries to do what he can do.
``Some nights he's better than other nights, when he feels better. And, so somewhere along the way, if this thing gets further away from us, then I think it would be prudent to say, 'We've got to take care of our best asset.' But I know he's not 100 percent.''
Wade, who missed the first seven games of the season recovering from his injuries, is still averaging 24.4 points, fifth in the league. He and Shaquille O'Neal helped bring the NBA title to Miami two years ago, but O'Neal, slowed by age and injury, was traded to Phoenix two weeks ago for Shawn Marion.
The Heat were 1-8 since the trade entering their game against the SuperSonics.
``Unlike other players on other teams who become unhappy, this is his team, this is where he wants to be,'' Riley said. ``He wants us to get better quick, which I do, too, but he's done what he's had to do for this franchise this year.
``He's very frustrated by the losing and he's very frustrated by himself. I know he's frustrated by some nights when he doesn't play well.''
Wade was coming off back-to-back, sub-20 point games for the first time this season. He had 18 points Thursday against the Lakers and 15 in a victory Tuesday against Sacramento, ending an 11-game losing streak. The Heat have a 10-45 record.
TV analyst and former player Reggie Miller was critical of Wade on a national broadcast earlier this week.
``This is Dwyane's first time, double surgery, going through a tough, tough time, and people won't give him the benefit of the doubt,'' Riley said. ``He's got to be something that maybe he can't be at 25. Kobe (Bryant) learned over 10 years, 11 years in this league to get where he's at.
``My point in making these comparisons about Dwyane with other players, all of whom who have gone through these things. He's going to toughen up. He's going to become who he was again, and I think it's unfair for him to be called out like that because on nationally television he plays the best player and has a tough night.''
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