Alonzo Mourning scored 10 of his 23 points during a decisive 24-5 run to start the third quarter, and the Heat cruised to a 109-95 victory over the Mavericks on Saturday night.
Miami, which began the night first in the NBA in defense and
last in offense, got 26 points from Eddie Jones and a season-high 19 points from reserve Chris Gatling. The Heat surpassed 100 points for only the seventh time this season, but they topped 100 for the second straight game.
"Whether we score 100 points or 50 points, we're just trying to be consistent and play tough defense," Gatling said.
The Heat won for the fourth time in five games to continue their climb into the Eastern Conference playoff race after a 5-23 start.
The Mavericks started the night No. 1 in the league in scoring and last in team defense, but they shot only 40.7 percent from the field. Dallas had scored 100 or more points in nine of its previous 10 games, but the Mavericks were unable to contend with the Heat's muscle inside.
"We pounded the ball inside and took them out of their rhythm a
little bit," Mourning said.
Mavericks coach Don Nelson was ejected with 6:18 left and his
team trailing by 23 when he was called for his second technical
foul for drop-kicking the ball into the stands during a stoppage in
Nelson complained about the officiating throughout the game, and when Nowitzki was called for a technical after picking up his sixth foul, Nelson came onto the court, grabbed the ball from Nash and booted it into the crowd to earn his second technical in less than a minute.
"Are the Cowboys looking for a punter?" said Mavericks assistant Donnie Nelson, who took over the team after his father was tossed.
"I think he had some pretty good style points. Nellie put an exclamation point on the night. We just did not step up physically."
The Heat shot 55.3 percent from the field, falling just short of
their season high of 55.7 percent.
Miami turned a seven-point halftime edge into a decisive
advantage behind the inside play of Mourning, who finished with 11
rebounds. The Heat moved out to a 79-53 lead in the opening 9:10 of
the third quarter, and took an 84-63 lead into the final period.
Dallas' run-and-gun offense was slowed by Miami's physical
defense. The Heat held a 52-30 edge in points in the paint, 17-4 on
second-chance points, and had a 45-35 rebounding advantage.
"We're a team that likes to push people around," said Jones, who hit all three of his 3-point attempts. "It seems like the teams out West don't like to be bumped around."
Miami took a 55-48 halftime lead behind 65.8 percent shooting (25-for-38) and Gatling's 13 points.
"It started from the beginning," Dallas guard Nick Van Exel said. "They set the tone early with their aggressiveness, and we never responded to that."
The Mavericks play the Nuggets on Sunday night in Denver, their first meeting since the seven-player trade between the teams on Feb. 21. Dallas won its first two games with the four new
players from Denver -- Raef LaFrentz, Van Exel, Avery Johnson and Tariq Abdul-Wahad. They combined for only 11 points against Miami. ... The Heat had lost their previous three games against the Mavericks.