Mark Cuban left his baseline seat and raced to midcourt to plead, complain or simply be that guy.
Rapper 2 Chainz was hanging with the Mavericks owner Sunday night, so Cuban, being Cuban, was about to go full Cuban.
An NBA official was seated behind press row, and on the court Heat guard Mario Chalmers and Mavericks center Tyson Chandler had just been hit with double technical fouls.
“He hit him in the chin,” Cuban crowed, pointing to his jutting jaw.
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No, Chalmers didn’t punch Chandler, but Cuban’s reaction was understandable. His punch-drunk team had been taking shots to the face all night from a team that was supposed to be vulnerable on the second night of a back-to-back and struggling offensively without LeBron James.
The Heat surprised the Mavericks on Sunday with offensive efficiency not unlike another Texas team the Mavericks’ billionaire owner loves to beat, but seldom does these days. Looking very Spurs-like, the Heat defeated the Mavericks 105-96 at American Airlines Center. Miami has won seven in a row against Dallas, a streak dating back to 2012.
“It was a very, very good win — our best win of the year so far,” said Dwyane Wade, who finished with 20 points and 10 assists. “It’s a challenge to play six games in nine nights, but we came out victorious with what we want to do, and that’s get better as a team.
“This was our toughest test of this span, and we played our best basketball.”
Playing with an illness, Chris Bosh finished with 20 points to give him at least 20 points in the Heat’s first seven games. He went 7 of 10 from the field with 10 rebounds and five assists.
The Heat (5-2) had 31 assists on 42 field goals and small forward Luol Deng was the main beneficiary of all that ball movement. He had 30 points, going 13 of 19 from the field and 4 of 9 from three-point range. The last time Deng scored 30 points was on Dec.2, 2013.
“We’re still getting better as a team, and I think there is still a lot to figure out, but in the game plan [Sunday] they doubled Bosh and D-Wade, and we did a good job of moving the ball,” Deng said. “We had a lot of open jumpers.”
Led by seven assists from Wade, the Heat had 19 assists on 24 field goals in the first half. The team’s best run came with Wade, Bosh and Deng on the court with Chalmers and forward Josh McRoberts. A five-point lead quickly ballooned to 14 points with easy baskets inside and open jumpers.
One play in particular characterized the smooth night offensively.
Time already was running out on the shot clock when McRoberts caught a pass at the elbow with 4:17 left in the second quarter. His options seemed limited. Moments later the Heat’s new forward whipped a pass through the heart of the Mavericks’ defense to Wade, who was wide open. Wade finished the play to give the Heat a 45-37 lead.
“We showed more poise,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We showed great trust all the way to the end. Guys are starting to see the benefits of playing together.”
Chalmers had 18 points off the bench, going 6 of 9 from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point range.
Monta Ellis led the Mavs (4-3) with 23 points. Dirk Nowitzki, playing in his 17th season, had 17 points. Chandler, the Mavericks center, finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Wade on LeBron
Wade has played in every game this season and Sunday was his third back-to-back. Last season, he played in three back-to-backs. He’s feeling good, his body has responded well to the beginning of the season, and his team has a better record than that of his good buddy James in Cleveland.
In other words, it’s a good time to weigh in on the NBA’s biggest story to start the season — the early struggles of the Cavaliers. Any advice Wade would give James at this point in the season?
“He has all the tools he needs,” Wade said before the game in Dallas. “We’ve been through it together where we ran into struggles as a team. You’re going to do that in the season, whether it’s in the beginning of the season, or sometimes in the middle or sometimes at the end.
“He’s a four-time MVP, he’s a two-time champion. I’m sure he’ll figure it out as a leader.”
The Heat is 5-2 and the Cavaliers are 2-3 with a home game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.
“We’re six games in for some teams and less for others, so it’s so premature to be worrying about guys struggling or guys playing well,” Wade said. “We’re yet to see how it’s really going to shake out.”