It’s not really a rivalry anymore, this matchup between the Heat and the Mavericks.
There is history aplenty between the two teams. The Finals in 2006 and 2011, the Heat hitting rock bottom in Dallas in the 2010-2011 regular season, the forever battle for Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James making fun of Dirk Nowitzki’s cold, the gloating Mark Cuban. All that jazz.
It doesn’t mean much when one team leads by 30 after three quarters.
There was a time when the Heat seemed like it would never win a regular-season game at American Airlines Center. Those days are long gone. The Heat defeated the Mavericks 110-95 on Thursday, handing the 2011 NBA champions what now has become an annual blowout on its home court.
Thursday’s game featured only one rotational player for the Mavericks, Shawn Marion, who played in the 2011 Finals. So, officially, this once-a-rivalry has been put on hold until Cuban rebuilds his team, or at least until Nowitzki returns from knee surgery.
“They’re a team with some injuries, but nevertheless it was our first stint on the road in a while and it was good to see us play to our identity and look a little bit more similar to our normal Miami Heat defense,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The Heat led 91-61 at the end of the third quarter after going ahead by 36 points in the period. James and Wade rested the entire fourth quarter. Entering the final, unnecessary period of the game, Miami was 10 of 21 from three-point range while the Mavericks were 3 of 18 from that distance.
James led the Heat with 24 points, going 9 of 13 from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point range. He also had nine rebounds and five assists. James had 13 points in the first quarter, helping the Heat take a 31-20 lead.
“We wanted to come out and dominate and play at a high level,” James said. “We’re playing some good ball, especially defensively, as of late and we wanted to just keep that going.”
The Heat (17-6) held the Mavericks (12-14) to 8 of 29 shooting in the first quarter. Overall, Dallas shot 13.6 percent (3 of 22) from three-point range.
Wade was as active as he has been all season. The Heat outscored the Mavericks by 40 points with Wade on the court. He finished with 19 points on 7 of 13 shooting and also had five rebounds and six assists.
“D-Wade was making shots and he was also getting offensive rebounds for tips and lay-ups and he was very active tonight,” James said. “But it started defensively for him, though. He held O.J. [Mayo] under all his averages and we knew O.J. was the biggest thing for their team.”
Mayo, the Mavericks’ leading scorer with Nowitzki out, had eight points on 14 shots and half of those points came in the fourth quarter.
Chris Bosh had 17 points, going 8 of 14 from the field. Only reserve Dallas reserve Jae Crowder had double digits in scoring entering the fourth quarter. He led the Mavs with 15 points.
Shane Battier had 13 points, helping blow open the game in the second quarter after the Mavericks’ cut the Heat’s first quarter lead to three points. Miami linked together a 16-4 run from there. Mike Miller’s three-pointer put the Heat ahead 52-37 with 2:59 left in the first half. Miller finished with six points. Ray Allen had 10.