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Heat defeat Mavericks for second straight win

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DALLAS — No one player can replace LeBron James, but Luol Deng showed that he’s capable of carrying the Miami Heat on occasion.

Deng scored a season-high 30 points as the Heat cruised to a 105-96 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night at American Airlines Center.

The Heat (5-2) extended their winning streak over Dallas to seven straight games, while improving to 2-1 on the road this season. Miami has won two in a row on back-to-back nights after a two-game skid.

“It’s good for us and good for the team,” Heat center Chris Bosh said. “I am just proud of the way we played and the way we did it with defense and sharing the ball. This is a very tough team, especially on the road. That is one of the things we feel like we can make a lot of improvement on.

“I am proud of our guys. We had a bunch of guys that stepped up. Mario Chalmers and Luol Deng had fantastic games tonight, and you never know where it’s going to come from.”

Deng surpassed his previous best scoring output in a Miami uniform by 12 points and reached the 30-point plateau for the first time since Dec. 2, 2013, when he was with Chicago.

“We want everyone to feel they are in a rhythm and if the ball is moving, everybody can have a chance to be aggressive but also be in rhythm,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It might be a different guy on different nights. You don’t have to hunt for 30 points from any one guy, but (Deng) is one of our primary attackers and scorers and he does need to get his opportunities, and we have to work to help him get comfortable.

“He was terrific tonight on the road and hit the big ones when we needed them.”

The veteran small forward, signed in the offseason to help offset the loss of James, made 13 of 19 shots from the floor, including four of nine 3-point attempts. Deng was critical in Miami getting off to a strong start.

“He played hard,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “He did everything hard. He cut hard, he drove hard and he was terrific. His shot was there. We let him get going early and never did enough to disrupt his rhythm.”

Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Bosh both notched 20-10 double-doubles. Wade had 20 points and 10 assists, and Bosh scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his hometown.

“They are steady,” Spoelstra said. “They are balancing that tough thing of when to attack and create offense for us and when to facilitate. They were both very poised with that tonight.”

Chalmers scored 18 off the bench. Miami would shoot 55 percent for the night, and knock down 12 of 20 3-pointers.

Dallas guard Monta Ellis scored a team-high 23, with center Tyson Chandler netting his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 boards. Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki finished with 17 points, 16 coming in the first half.

The Mavericks cut into an 11-point halftime deficit with a strong start to the third quarter, reversing a trend of poor play coming out of halftime this season. Ellis carried the load, as Dallas used an 11-2 run to cut Miami’s lead to 63-59.

Miami regained control with a 9-0 run and carried an 83-67 lead into the fourth quarter. The Mavericks (4-3) didn’t make a dent in the final quarter while suffering their first home loss in three games and second loss overall in three outings.

“I’m concerned with how we’re competing as a team,” Carlisle said. “We just have a problem right now from top to bottom with consistency. When our level of competiveness comes up to where it should be on a consistent basis, a lot of our problems will dissipate.”

Deng’s shooting helped stake the Heat to an early lead. Miami finished the first quarter with an 11-0 run, punctuated by a 3-pointer from Deng for a 29-20 lead at the end of the period.

Bosh picked it up for the visitors in the second quarter, as the lead reached double digits. Miami shot 60 percent for a 55-44 lead at halftime, with 15 points each from Bosh and Deng.

The Mavericks looked frustrated, especially defensively, throughout the half as the Heat continued to get open looks. Offensively, they weren’t much better, shooting just 37 percent, including just 3-for-15 from beyond the arc.

Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons missed all six of his shots in 15 first-half minutes, and was 1-for-9 for the game. He is only 2-for-20 shooting in the last two games while dealing with the effects of an upper respiratory infection.

NOTES: Mavericks owner Mark Cuban raised the question before the game of Oklahoma City sitting F Kevin Durant and G Russell Westbrook for the rest of the season to possibly secure a high draft pick. The absence of the Thunder stars has led to the team’s 1-5 start. “I’m not suggesting anything,” Cuban said. “I’m just curious why the question hasn’t been asked because I’m curious what the answer is.” … Miami F Chris Bosh came into the game as one of only three players in the league averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. … Dallas F Dirk Nowitzki needs 17 points to surpass Hall-of-Fame C Hakeem Olajuwon for ninth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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