HEAT 117, MAVERICKS 106

James’ 42 keys victory over Dallas

 
WEB VOTE Has LeBron James surpassed Dwyane Wade as the greatest player in Miami Heat history?

grichards@MiamiHerald.com

If it looks like LeBron James gets up for the Mavericks a little bit more than other teams, well, there may be something to that.

"They are the reason why I'm the player I am today,'' James said of the team that beat Miami in the 2011 NBA Finals. "When they beat us, I went to a place I hadn't been before.''

On Tuesday, James was a one-man wrecking crew against the Mavs, throwing down a season-high 42 points in Miami's rousing 117-106 victory at AmericanAirlines Center.

Afterward, James got a celebratory hug from Dallas quarterback Tony Romo as he walked off the court. For a lifelong Cowboys fan, not a bad night.

The Heat are now 4-1 on this trip that ends Thursday against west-leading Oklahoma City.

"You have to learn how to win on the road again and we've had some key ones on this trip,'' said James, who has averaged 32.2 points in Miami's current six-game winning streak against the Mavs.

Dallas hasn't beaten James and the Heat since Game 6 back in 2011.

Miami looked a touch rusty coming off this weekend's All-Star break although James -- who got into town at 5 a.m. on Monday morning -- showed signs of fatigue even if his numbers didn't.

With the Heat down four in the fourth, James went on a personal 8-0 run -- he hit back-to-back 3-pointers before throwing down a dunk in transition -- to help fuel Miami's fourth win of this road trip.

"If I'm on the court, I have to make things happen,'' James said. "I'm still tired, but it feels good to be on the floor. If out there, I'm not making excuses.''

Miami eventually turned that into a 14-0 run with James getting 10 and Chris Andersen -- who buzzed off his usually-spiked mohawk -- dunking for the other four points as Miami opened up an 11-point lead.

James had 23 points in the second half as Miami swept the season series against Dallas for the third straight year.

"Obviously, LeBron was terrific offensively,'' coach Erik Spoelstra said. "At that point, you're just watching him make great plays.''

Miami swept the two-game season series from the Mavericks for the third straight year as Miami has won six straight against Dallas dating to Opening Night of the 2011-12 season.

Dallas, of course, raised its NBA title banner won against the Heat that previous summer.

"You have to get over it,'' Spoelstra said. "It's not like we've completely erased those memories, but we've moved on from it. They deserved to win. [Tuesday] was more about us building some road toughness.''

Yet James doesn't seem to forget. On Tuesday, he looked focused and in tune as he led the Heat despite a shaky third quarter.

James scored 19 in the opening half as he scored in a variety of ways. Was James a little perturbed at being told by a local reporter that Dallas' Shawn Marion left him off his so-called NBA 'Mount Rushmore?'

Looked like it.

"I really don't care what people say, what people think,'' James said before the game. "I don't care what anyone says about the way I play about the game of basketball.''

James scored off half-court lobs from Dwyane Wade (who was back after missing Miami's final two games before the break) in the opening quarter to drilling a fadeaway baseline jumper while being fouled by Marion with 2:45 left in the half to give Miami a seven-point lead at 55-48.

Miami led for much of the first quarter but Dallas retook the lead early in the second and held a five-point lead with 6:29 left in the half before Mario Chalmers drained a 3-pointer.

The Heat took off from there and led by 9 when Chalmers hit a lay-up as he and James broke free on a 2-on-1 break.

Miami led by six at the break.

Dallas, however, took advantage of Miami's cold shooting and sloppy play and quickly erased its deficit.

By the time Jose Calderon drained a 3-pointer with 6:02 left in the third, Miami was down six.

James got things flowing again as Miami went into the fourth down one.

With James on the bench for the first four minutes of the fourth, Wade & Co. had to carry the load for a while. Wade took a nice feed from Ray Allen and drove the lane, his reverse finger roll giving Miami the lead with eight minutes left.

A four-point play from Vince Carter (15 points) negated that -- although James tied things moments later with his third trey of the night. James hit another three not long afterward to stoke Miami to a three-point lead before he threw down a jam to complete his eight-point run.

A 3-pointer from Bosh from the left corner with 1:18 left all but ended it for Miami. If that didn't, an alley-oop from James to Andersen with 53.5 remaining sure did.

Andersen ended with a season-best 18 points.

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