- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: It was all over once James got off the bench after a brief rest at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
James, who finished with a season-high 42 points, simply seized control of the game at that point. He scored the next eight points to spark a 14-0 run that gave the Heat the lead for good.
The Mavs managed to lead with less than eight minutes remaining despite a dominant performance by James, who was 16-of-23 from the floor and stuffed the box score with nine rebounds, five assists and two steals. But Dallas ran out of gas as James floored it in the fourth quarter.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, but he was only 1-of-4 from the floor in the fourth quarter.
That was when James was at his best. The four-time MVP, who was so heavily criticized for his fourth-quarter failures on this floor in the 2011 NBA Finals, finished off the Mavs with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the final frame. One of James' misses in the fourth quarter was a heat-check 3-pointer from well beyond the arc.
What it means: The Mavs couldn’t pull off an amazing feat of beating the two best teams in the Eastern Conference in consecutive games. They’ve still won six of their past eight games, including a road victory against the Indiana Pacers just before the All-Star break. Dallas dropped to 32-23, putting them in a three-way tie with the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors for sixth place in the West standings, pending the Suns’ outcome against the Denver Nuggets. Miami is 38-14 after its ninth win in 11 games.
Play of the game: As far as pure entertainment goes, it doesn’t get much better than LeBron’s first bucket. With the Heat in transition, James beat everyone down the floor and soared to slam home a half-court alley-oop from Dwyane Wade.
Stat of the night: James’ two highest scoring outings of the season have come against the Mavs. He had 39 points in the Heat’s Nov. 15 win over the Mavs in Miami.