What happened in between was aggravating, but at least the bookends of this pre All Star-break Heat road trip were thoroughly satisfying and what Miami hopes will be a harbinger of things to come in the second half of the season.
Miami punctuated its five-game Western sojourn with an impressive 112-101 win in Dallas, a game in which Miami seized control in the second half.
Down 58-57 at the break, the Heat rode a 12-0 third quarter run to pull ahead by 13, then stretched the margin to as many as 21 en route to ending a three-game losing streak..
The Heat (26-30) and Pistons are tied for eighth in the East but Detroit owns the tiebreaker at the moment, with the teams scheduled to meet twice in Miami over the next five weeks.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Despite the 2-3 record on this trip, there were encouraging signs even before Wednesday – a resounding win against a good Portland team, three strong quarters (before unraveling in the fourth) against Sacramento and a well-played 120-118 loss in Golden State.
Playing in the arena where he won his first championship, Dwyane Wade was exceptional, with 22 points, including 14 in the first half, on 9 for 14 shooting.
Some Mavericks fans shouted “we want Wade” when Wade was on the bench late in the game. Wade acknowledged the crowd.
Wade and Dirk Nowitzki, two stars retiring at the end of the season, exchanged jerseys after the game.
There were contributions across the board Wednesday, including 20 from Dion Waiters, who hit three three-pointers and showed explosiveness driving to the basket and 14 from Josh Richardson, who scored nine points during a third quarter in which Miami outscored Dallas, 32-16.
Kelly Olynyk also played well, scoring 10 on 4 for 6 shooting. Bam Adebayo chipped in 10 points and six rebounds, and James Johnson scored 12.
And Justise Winslow adeptly ran the offense and made across-the-board contributions with 11 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and pesky defense, when needed, on Mavericks rookie star Luka Doncic, who scored 18 on 5 for 17 shooting.
Dallas closed a 21-point deficit to 99-88, but James Johnson then hit two baskets a to push the margin back to 15.
The Heat closed at 55 percent from the field and 41.4 on threes (12 for 29)
Check back later tonight for takeaways from the game and postgame reaction.