Heat have no answers for gritty Mavs
While Dirk Nowitzki drove for a layup during Dallas’ game-turning run to start the second half, he split a gap between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James — with all three of All-Stars in the air at the same time — to get to the basket.
Even with Wade’s new help in Miami, the Heat still can’t beat the Mavericks in the regular season.
After losing for the fourth time in five games, 106-95 on Saturday night, the Heat (9-8) had a players-only meeting. That comes a month into the season that James and Dallas-born Chris Bosh joined Wade in Miami.
”We felt like we needed it. Sometimes it’s a feel. We haven’t had a team-only meeting. We’re playing like 9-8 and we needed it,” Wade said. ”This is a new team, a new group of guys. Guys need to understand each other and hear each other talk. We all feel better after the talk we had. ”
At the same point a year ago, Miami was 10-7.
”It’s tough because I know the potential of this team, the vision I had when this team was put together,” Wade said.
Caron Butler scored seven of his 23 points in that third quarter spurt for the Mavericks, who haven’t lost a regular-season game against Miami in 6 1/2 years.
James and Wade finally appeared in the interview room about 45 minutes after the game. Neither would get into specifics of what was said in the closed locker room.
”It was a well-needed team meeting where everybody had a chance to get off whatever they had on their chest or in their head about us figuring things out,” James said. ”Right now we are a 9-8 team and we have to own up to that. Does our record speak of the quality of team we can become? I don’t think so. But right now we’re 9-8 and we’re playing like that.”
The Heat were coming off a 99-90 home win Friday night over Philadelphia, which has the worst record in the Eastern Conference. That snapped a three-game losing streak.
Dallas has won 13 consecutive games over Miami since March 2004, and 16 of 17. That doesn’t include the 2006 NBA Finals, when the Heat won in six games after losing the first two.
While Miami missed its first 10 shots after halftime, Dallas scored 13 consecutive points and led 64-49 when Butler hit a 3-pointer with 7:55 left in the third quarter. That came only 30 seconds after Butler’s layup on an assist from Jason Kidd.
Dallas played for the fourth time in five nights, having ended significant winning streaks by its last two opponents. After ending Oklahoma City’s five-game winning streak Wednesday, the Mavericks ended San Antonio’s 12-game winning streak Friday night.
”This was a big week for us,” Kidd said. ”It’s a big four wins, especially on back-to-backs. … We’ve been telling (Butler) to just catch and shoot and take that first one, and then go into your tricks and the game will be a lot easier for him. Tonight, we went to him and he delivered.”
James had 23 points, making only 5 of 19 field goals. Bosh and Wade both had 22 points.
Nowitzki had 22 points for Dallas, while Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 17 rebounds.
When Wade got up off the floor after Chandler’s slam dunk that made it 73-55 with 5:35 left in the third quarter, the frustration was evident on Wade’s face. Later in the quarter, Wade was discussing something with a referee while holding the ball near the baseline — then tossed the ball to another referee at midcourt.
After being down by 18 points in the third quarter, the Heat managed to get within 94-89 on Mario Chalmers’ 3-pointer with 4:24 left in the game. But Chalmers fouled Nowitzki on the next possession and the Mavericks star made both free throw. Wade’s bad pass was stolen by Jason Terry which led to another Kidd pass to Butler for a baseline jumper that made it 98-89.
Kidd had 13 assists. That included four in the opening stretch after halftime, the last two to Butler before Miami called a timeout.
”We made a point to get out of the locker room and get loose, show them that we would be warm and we wanted to pick up the pace,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. ”Getting the game going up and down is something that worked for us tonight.”
Miami finally got some second-half points when Bosh made a 19-foot jumper on a pass from James 4 1/2 minutes after halftime.
The Heat had their biggest lead after Wade scored the first five points in a 10-0 run right after re-entering the game in the second quarter to make it 38-32 with 7 minutes left in the first half.
Three minutes later, Butler’s long jumper on another assist from Kidd made it 41-40. The best Miami could do after that was tie the game on 47 on a three-point play by James, when he grabbed an offensive rebound and scored while being fouled.
Notes: Erick Dampier, the former Mavericks center, made his Miami debut. He played eight minutes with one rebound. The Heat signed him this week after their leading rebounder, Udonis Haslem, had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left foot. … Miami’s last win over Dallas in the regular season was 119-118 in overtime at home on March 26, 2004. The Heat have lost 10 in a row in Dallas since a 109-95 victory on March 2, 2002. … Wade made a 35-foot jumper at the end of the first quarter. But it came after the buzzer and didn’t count. It was 26-all then.