Mavericks 106, Heat 93
Good thing the NBA title isn't decided in the regular season, or the Miami Heat probably wouldn't have a championship banner swaying from their rafters.
Unless it's June, they just can't beat the Dallas Mavericks.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 points, Erick Dampier finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds, and the Mavericks added to Miami's home woes with an 106-93 win Friday night - their 11th straight regular-season victory over the Heat since March 2004.
``They're a good team,'' said Heat guard Dwyane Wade, the MVP of Miami's six-game win over Dallas in the 2006 NBA finals. ``It's as simple as that.''
Jason Terry scored 16 points, J.J. Barea added 12 points and 10 assists, and former Heat forward Shawn Marion scored 12 for Southwest Division-leading Dallas. The Mavs never trailed and are 9-4 on the road, more wins away from home than anyone so far in the Western Conference.
``We were fortunate they missed some shots early they normally make,'' Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. ``As the game went on, our shot making was pretty good.''
Wade scored 28 points and matched a career high with 11 rebounds for the Heat, 2-5 at home since Nov. 10. Udonis Haslem made his first eight shots and finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds for otherwise cool-shooting Miami, which started 0 for 10 from the floor and was in a double-digit hole by the time the game was 5 minutes old.
Michael Beasley added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat, who got 11 points from Mario Chalmers. Jason Kidd finished with 10 assists for Dallas, which had 30 as a team compared with 14 by Miami.
``Give them credit, they played well,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ``They moved the ball, 30 assists, they played unselfishly. They played good basketball tonight.''
Wade shot only 8 of 24, and left with a brace protecting his right hand. Wade said he got hurt after trying to get past Nowitzki for a layup and falling hard to the floor.
The Mavericks had a 24-7 lead with 3:28 left in the first, and every time the Heat drew near, Dallas hit the gas and pulled away again.
Miami got within three points five times in the second quarter, never any closer. It was 53-46 at the half, and the start of the third quarter was nearly as dominant for Dallas as the start of the first.
The Mavs opened the second half on a 10-4 run, a pair of 3-pointers from Kidd - his only field goals in 36 minutes - serving as the big blows. Dallas' starting five combined to shoot 8 for 10 from the floor in the third period, stretching the lead back to 15 at one point before settling on an 84-73 edge entering the final quarter.
``It's very difficult for a team to come back from a deficit like that,'' Barea said. ``Sometimes it is very tiring. I believe they got tired.''
And with boxing star Floyd Mayweather Jr. courtside, just a few steps from the Dallas bench, the Mavs landed the knockout blow.
Drew Gooden came off the Mavericks' bench to score five points in the first 1:33 of the fourth quarter, the Dallas lead was quickly built back to 17, and Miami's fate was sealed.
``We knew they were going to fight back,'' Nowitzki said. ``Any time you have a player like Wade and talented players around him, they aren't just going to lay down.''
Take away Haslem's 9 for 10 night, and the rest of the Heat were 24 for 72 - just 33 percent. A four-day layoff following a West coast trip probably didn't help.
``Flat,'' Wade said.
Miami was without starting center Jermaine O'Neal, who missed the game to remain with relatives in South Carolina following a family funeral. He is expected to work out Saturday in Miami and play Sunday when the Heat host the Memphis Grizzlies.
They could have clearly used O'Neal against Dampier, who controlled the paint.
``When you double team, you're going to give up something,'' Dampier said. ``They double-teamed Dirk tonight and it gave guys open shots or hit me for easy shots around the basket.''
NOTES: Wade had 11 rebounds for the fifth time in his career. The Heat are 2-3 in those games. ... It was the seventh time Dampier had at least 20 points with 15 rebounds in a game, the last of those coming in 2006. ... Dallas broke the 30-assist mark as a team for the fourth time this season. ... Quentin Richardson started at small forward for Miami, not even lasting seven minutes. Richardson has battled a hamstring strain in recent days. ... Among those in the crowd were Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, a regular at Heat games.