Mavericks begin second half with a loss to Miami
DALLAS (AP) - LeBron James scored a season-high 42 points and the Miami Heat tuned up for a showdown with Oklahoma City by beating the Dallas Mavericks 117-106 Tuesday night.
James, who had his first 40-point game of the season, scored the first eight points and 10 overall in a 14-0 run that put the Heat up 106-95 after they trailed by one entering the fourth quarter.
Miami came out of the All-Star break by winning for the sixth time in seven games heading into James' duel with Kevin Durant on Thursday night in Oklahoma City.
Dirk Nowitzki had 22 points to lead the Mavericks, who couldn't follow up a win over Indiana, the other top team in the Eastern Conference, in their final game before the break.
The deciding run started when James, who also had nine rebounds and six assists, stole a pass from Shawn Marion in the backcourt and pulled up for a tying 3-pointer.
After hitting another 3 over Marion to put Miami ahead for good, James drove for a dunk following a Dallas turnover and skipped to the bench when the Mavericks called timeout. His previous season high was 39 in a win over Dallas in Miami.
The Mavericks, who are in a tight battle for the final three playoff spots in the West, went without a field goal for 6 minutes after a four-point play by Vince Carter, who scored 15.
Dallas missed seven shots and had three turnovers while Miami pulled away for its third straight season sweep of the Mavericks -- six consecutive wins -- since losing to them in the 2011 NBA Finals.
Chris Bosh scored 22 for Miami and Dwyane Wade had 13 after missing the final two games before the break with a foot problem. Chris Andersen scored a season-high 18, including his second 3-pointer of the season for Miami's final points.
Mario Chalmers had 10 points and nine assists for the Heat.
James scored 19 points in an entertaining first half that included an alley-oop dunk on a pass from near midcourt by Wade, a breakaway slam and the buzz of anticipation for another alley-oop that instead was a simple layup from Chalmers when Monta Ellis, the lone defender, chose to guard James.
The Mavericks looked primed for the only visit of the season from the two-time defending champions. Nowitzki was on pace for a triple-double in the first half with nine points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Devin Harris found Brandan Wright with a fancy pass for a running dunk that was thrown straight down, barely making a ripple in the net.
NOTES: Fans about 10 rows from the court were briefly distracted from the entertaining first half when two men were led out of the arena in handcuffs after an apparent fight early in the second quarter. ... At least four Dallas Cowboys were in the crowd: QB Tony Romo, TE Jason Witten, RB DeMarco Murray and WR Terrance Williams.