DALLAS — LeBron James received very little down time during a busy All-Star weekend, and he had just one day off between Sunday’s All-Star Game and the resumption of the season Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center.
It didn’t matter. The Miami forward was at his best, posting 42 points, nine rebounds and six assists while carrying the Heat past the Dallas Mavericks, 117-106.
The Heat earned their third consecutive road win and their fourth victory in five games on a six-game road trip.
“It took a little time for us this season to get back to that mental toughness,” James said. “You can’t take it for granted just because you were able to do it last year. You have to learn how to win on the road once again. We have been able to get some very key road wins on this trip.”
Dallas led 95-92 when swingman Vince Carter completed a four-point play with 7:47 left in the game. Miami then turned to a swarming defense that was missing for most of a very entertaining offensive game. The Heat produced a 16-0 run, extending the lead to 106-95 with 3:21 to go. Dallas finally ended its drought when center Samuel Dalembert hit the second of two free throws with 2:29 to go to make it 106-96.
The Mavericks went five minutes without scoring and six minutes between field goals as Miami closed out the game with a 25-8 run that included an 8-0 spurt — all from James.
“At that point you’re watching him make good plays,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Throughout the course of the game, he made a lot of two-way, impactful plays, setting guys up for easy baskets, scoring himself when he needed to, and at the other end, he was guarding literally one through five tonight. He did it on both ends, and that one stretch at the end gave us a lot of confidence going down the stretch.”
Dallas had a chance to record a big home win in its first game since defeating the East-leading Indiana Pacers on the road in the final game before the All-Star break. However, the Mavericks’ opportunity slipped away during the opening four minutes of the final quarter.
James took a breather while Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, was hard at work trying to extend Dallas’ small lead.
However, Dallas could only extend the lead by three by the time James returned. James scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and wound up hitting 16 of 23 shots.
“He was great,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “He was great in all areas. He is great and we know he is great. He scored a bundle of points on us last time, and he was even better tonight. But that’s him, and I thought we played extremely hard and our heart was in the right place all night.
“We just had some untimely misses, some untimely turnovers, and that really hurt us. They are a team that takes advantage of those, and they make you pay an exponential price. That’s what happened in the fourth quarter.”
Miami guard Dwyane Wade was limited to 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting. He also had seven assists. Heat forward Chris Bosh added 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting, plus five rebounds. Forward Chris Andersen scored 18 points, and guard Mario Chalmers added 10 points and nine assists.
Dallas got 15 points from Carter off the bench. Mavericks guard Monta Ellis, guard Jose Calderon and backup center Brandan Wright each scored 12 points, but they combined to shoot 13-for-35 from the floor. It just wasn’t enough to overcome James’ huge night that included 4-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc.
“When we turned it off, he was gone,” Mavs forward Shawn Marion said. “He’s one of the fastest guys in the league in the open court. After his fourth open-court dunk, the matchups started to get bigger on him. Then he started pulling up for 3s and started hitting some. It just opened the game up.”
Heat backup center Greg Oden had an impact at both ends in the first half. He scored five points on a finger roll and a dunk that became a three-point play with the foul. He also helped quiet Wright, who had a fast run of three thunderous dunks before the insertion of the 7-foot Oden.
In five minutes of action, Oden finished with the five points and one rebound.
NOTES: Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki requested limited minutes in Sunday’s All-Star Game and played just eight. The league’s 13th-leading scorer all time was the only player on either team not to score in a game that set an All-Star record for total scoring. … The Heat played their fourth game of a six-game road trip against all Western Conference teams. They wrap it up against the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Thursday. … Mavericks owner Mark Cuban squashed a trade rumor earlier in the day that suggested Dallas was attempting to put together a package for Minnesota PF Kevin Love.
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