Wade stepping up as leader of Cavaliers' bench – ESPN

2:25 AM ET

CHICAGO — Nearly an hour before the bulk of his teammates arrived at the United Center and 10 hours before tipoff of yet another regular-season game in his 15th go-round in the league, Dwyane Wade stood at center court and bounced a ball right on the face of the Chicago Bulls’ bright red logo, capturing the scene on his Snapchat account.

Was this his Terrell Owens celebrating a touchdown on the star at the Dallas Cowboys’ 50-yard line moment? Was this Wade announcing his return to his hometown arena, signaling that a pounding was in store for the team he played for last season?

“I’m not petty,” Wade told ESPN after the Cleveland Cavaliers beat Chicago 113-91 on Monday to run their winning streak to 12 games. “I was just at the gym early.”

And come game time, he continued to be as reliable as he has been of late, scoring 24 points off the bench to go with six rebounds and two assists and amassing a plus-minus of plus-20 in 26 minutes of action to help the Cavs beat the Bulls.

There are plenty of ways to explain Cleveland catching fire after looking like, well, a dumpster fire through its 5-7 start. The defense is dramatically improved. Outside shots are falling. LeBron James is putting up the type of numbers that make you wonder if his prime will ever end. The team is in better shape after looking gassed early on following a shortened training camp. The new personnel has been given a chance to jell with one another.

And somewhere on that list right near the very top is the personal play of Wade, who has become a leader of the Cavs’ second unit that looks as formidable as any bench in the league.

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