No fourth-quarter collapse this time against Dallas. These days, everything seems to be going right at home for the Miami Heat.
LeBron James and Chris Bosh each finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem scored 16 apiece and the Heat extended the league’s longest home winning streak this season to 15 games with a 106-85 win over the Mavericks in an NBA finals rematch on Thursday night.
Mario Chalmers scored 12 points and Norris Cole added 10 for Miami, which swept its two games with Dallas this season and snapped a two-game losing streak.
”We just worked our habits,” James said. ”The best thing about tonight, we didn’t take another step backwards like we did the last two games. And it was good to see.”
Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 for Dallas, but was held to 1-for-9 shooting in the second half. Lamar Odom had 12 for the Mavericks, who were outrebounded 44-29 and were held to only two fast-break points.
Miami outscored Dallas 26-13 in the fourth quarter to cap the win.
”You have to give them credit,” Nowitzki said. ”They stepped up their pressure on both ends of the floor. In the first half everything came a little too easy for us. We got some good looks, got some rolls, had everything going. Then they really picked up their pressure and we didn’t have many good looks.”
It was Dallas’ first time playing at Miami since winning Game 6 of the NBA finals last June, a series that turned after an epic late Game 2 comeback by the Mavs in Miami and eventually became the ultimate payback – hoisting a championship trophy in Miami, five years after Wade and the Heat celebrated winning their title in Dallas.
Still, Dallas insisted this trip wasn’t about revisiting memories.
”Just another day at the office,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said.
Well, not an altogether friendly day at the office – particularly late.
In the fourth quarter alone, Nowitzki had the bridge of his nose bloodied, James got hit in the mouth and Wade spent a few minutes grabbing at his right index finger in obvious discomfort. Adding to Miami’s discomfort: Dallas being within 90-83 with 4:37 left after Nowitzki made four free throws in a 27-second span.
Any angst existing at that point dissipated quickly.
”I felt like we were in control,” Wade said. ”They got a couple things to go their way. It was just about settling down and running offense.”
Simple as that. A 9-0 run sealed it for Miami, with Wade quarterbacking the charge.
His two-handed dunk pushed the Heat lead back to double figures, then he found Bosh to set up a three-point play and set up James for a slam that pushed the lead to 99-83 with 3:03 left. The Mavs called time out, took Nowitzki and three others off the floor for the night, and the Heat slide was soon over.
Vince Carter and Brandan Wright each scored 11 for Dallas.
”It’s tough,” Carter said of facing the Heat. ”When they’re rolling, they’re rolling.”
Miami’s offense has sputtered for nearly a month, but the Heat scored 60 points by halftime for the first time in 11 games. James, Bosh and Wade shot 12 for 21 by halftime, and Miami’s bench – Haslem and Cole, mostly – connected on 10 of 13 shots before intermission. Haslem made all four of his shots in the half and Cole was 4 for 6 after making four shots in his last seven games.
Even with all that, the lead was only 60-53 at the break, in large part because Nowitzki was 8 for 10 from the field.
Miami’s offense cooled big-time in the third, the Heat shooting an abysmal 5 for 23. And the lead actually grew by a point in the period, thanks to what went on at the other end.
An 11-2 run gave the Heat their first double-digit lead, after holding Dallas without a field goal for more than 6 minutes. Miami led by as many as 13 in the third, before Odom scored Dallas’ final seven points of the period to get the Mavs within 80-72 going into the final quarter.
”It was disappointing,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. ”Our start to the third quarter was strong and then they answered back.”
And now, Miami hits the road for games in Toronto on Friday and Boston on Sunday. The Heat have lost six of their last eight away from home.
”It’s time for a response on the road,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”We will take this win. This is a great team win against a very good team. But we have to move on and now let’s take care of business on the road.”
NOTES: Bosh returns to Toronto on Friday, the city where he played his first seven seasons. … Dan Marino was among those in attendance. … Miami held a 36-24 scoring edge in the second quarter, the first time the Heat outscored an opponent in their last 12 quarters. … Mavs point guard Jason Kidd played in his 1,308th regular-season game, passing Buck Williams for 10th place on the NBA career list. … Mavs guard Delonte West (broken right ring finger) played for the first time in 22 games. Center Brendan Haywood (sprained right knee) was active, but indicated he was more likely to return at Orlando on Friday. … It marked the third time in Heat history that the team swept a season series with a reigning NBA champion.