- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: The Heat’s team bus arrived at the American Airlines Center. It was pretty much all downhill from there for the home team.
The Mavs’ only lead occurred when O.J. Mayo hit a jumper on the opening possession of the game. There weren’t many more bright spots for the Mavs after that.
LeBron James dominated the first quarter -- when he scored 13 of his 24 points -- and spent the fourth quarter clipping his fingernails on the Miami bench. James’ services weren’t needed after the Heat’s lead swelled to 36 (highest of the season for the defending champions) during the third quarter.
James finished with 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting, nine rebounds and five assists in 31 minutes. In other words, it was a relatively routine night for the reigning MVP.
The Mavs’ former MVP couldn’t do anything but watch. Dirk Nowitzki is still at least a week away from making his season debut, which was delayed by preseason arthroscopic knee surgery, leaving Shawn Marion as the only active Maverick who played a minute during Dallas’ 2011 Finals triumph over the Heat.
Dallas’ best player had arguably his worst performance of the season. Mayo scored only eight points on 3-of-14 shooting and got picked on defensively by James and Dwyane Wade (19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, six assists in 26 minutes).
Dallas' bench made the game look deceivingly somewhat competitive by dominating mop-up time.
What it means: The championship banner is still hanging in the AAC rafters, but the Heat have made themselves at home here in their two visits since the 2011 Finals. Miami blew out the Mavs in Dallas in last season’s Christmas Day opener and did it again Wednesday. This was the Mavs’ fourth loss in five games, dropping them to 12-14. The Heat (17-6) have won five of six since their only back-to-back losses of the season.
Play of the game: The ball touched the floor once during a beautiful Heat fastbreak off a missed Mavs jumper in the first quarter. James finished with a two-hand flush off a 35-foot lob pass from Wade. James did sort of a reverse chin-up on the rim after the dunk, just to add a little extra aesthetic touch.
Stat of the night: James has scored at least 20 points in the Heat’s first 23 games. The last player to start a season with a longer such streak was Karl Malone, who had 20-plus points in the Utah Jazz’s first 24 games of 1989-90.