LeBron James and the Miami Heat couldn’t keep the Dallas Mavericks from winning the most recent NBA championship. They did a nice job, however, of getting the Mavs’ title defense off to an ugly start.
James had 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists as the Heat beat the Mavericks 105-94 Sunday in a game that was hardly ever as close as the final score might suggest.
Maybe the pregame banner-raising ceremony left the Mavs emotionally drained or — more likely — the overhaul of their roster is slow to take hold. The newly minted champs were down by 15 after one quarter, 21 at halftime, and 35 a few minutes into the second half.
Miami made it look easy, scoring at least 30 points in each of the first three quarters. James had the top highlight, tipping an alley-oop pass to Dwyane Wade so he could have the dunk.
Wade had 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the Heat cemented their status as the preseason favorite to win it all. Udonis Haslem added nine points and 14 rebounds.
Dallas hardly showed any life until newcomer Lamar Odom was ejected for something he said while arguing a charging call late in the third quarter. Soon after, Jason Terry fueled a surged that got the Mavs within 17 midway through the fourth. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle recognized how unlikely it was that they would come all the way back, so he kept Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion on the bench the entire final period.
Terry ended up leading Dallas with 23 points. Nowitzki scored 21 in three quarters. Marion scored 12, and Delonte West added 10 in his Dallas debut. West also started the second half in place of another newcomer, Vince Carter. Carter had five points, two rebounds and three steals in 21 minutes.
NBA Commissioner David Stern attended the game and took part in the banner raising ceremony. Fans greeted him with boos, perhaps showing disgust over the lockout that delayed the start of the season from Nov. 1 and shrunk the season by 16 games.