LeBron over 20 again, Heat beat Mavericks 110-95

LeBron over 20 again, Heat beat Mavericks 110-95
December 21, 2012, 12:36 am
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Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) shoots against Dallas Mavericks' Bernard James (5) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

(APWF)

DALLAS (AP) LeBron James scored 24 points with some early baskets on nifty passes from Dwyane Wade, and the Miami Heat rolled to a 110-95 victory over the injury plagued Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.

James has scored at least 20 points in all 23 games, the longest streak to start an NBA season since Karl Malone's 24 in a row opening the 1989-90 season.

Dallas, still waiting for the season debut of 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki after right knee surgery, was also without starting point guard Derek Fisher (right knee) and post players Elton Brand (right groin) and Brandan Wright (right ankle).

The Heat never trailed after James drove for a short floater 3 minutes into the game to make it 6-4. They had their first double-digit lead, and had doubled Dallas 22-11 when James made a 3-pointer from the top right of the circle with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter.

Wade had 19 points and six assists while Chris Bosh had 17 points.

Rookie Jae Crowder had 15 points to lead six Dallas players in double figures. Dahntay Jones and Bernard James had 12 points each.

James' first 3 came in between two impressive passes from Wade, who didn't yet have James or Dallas native Bosh as teammates when the Heat clinched their first NBA title in the same building in June 2006.

Dallas is much changed team since winning the 2011 NBA title over the Heat, who are now defending a championship this season.

Bosh rebounded a missed 3-pointer by the Mavericks and got the ball to Wade, who had a perfect alley-oop pass to James, who caught the ball in midair near the rim and slammed it through with both hands.

After another missed 3 by Dallas later in the first quarter, Wade grabbed the rebound under the basket and then threw a football-like pass the length of the court to James. Even with Darren Collison and Vince Carter fronting him, James leaped and reached over to grab the ball, then finished with a layup for a 27-13 lead.

Dallas pulled to 36-33 after Dominique Jones had consecutive assists to rookies, a 3-pointer by Crowder and a reverse layup by Bernard James.

But Miami then responded with a 16-4 run.

Late in that spurt, after Wade dished off to Shane Battier for a 3 from the right corner, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle quickly called for his starting five to get off the bench and get ready to go back in the game.

But right after the starters returned on the next deadball, Wade drove for a layup, Bosh had a steal and Mike Miller capped the run with a 3-pointer for a 52-37 lead 3 minutes before halftime.

Miami stretched the lead to 91-55, its largest of the season, when Battier made a 3-pointer with 1:21 left in the third quarter.

Collison, who lost the job as the starting point guard when the Mavericks signed Fisher on Nov. 29, was back in the starting lineup and had 11 points.

Fisher was hurt in the first quarter of a win over Philadelphia on Tuesday night. He will skip a two-game trip for games at Memphis on Friday night and San Antonio on Sunday. The team said there is no timetable for the 38-year-old Fisher's return and that he would be re-evaluated next week.

Nowitzki practiced for the first time this week since his arthroscopic surgery Oct. 19. It is still unclear when he will make his season debut, but he got a huge cheer when he was shown on the video screen during a timeout.

NOTES: Mavs guard O.J. Mayo made only three of 14 shots for eight points before facing his former team on Friday night in Memphis. ... The Heat's largest lead this season before Thursday night had been against Washington last week, when they led by 35 points in the fourth quarter. ... Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, the freshman quarterback from Texas A&M, was sitting courtside early in the second half. He watched Philadelphia at Houston on Wednesday night. ... When play began after a timeout with about 7 minutes left, many fans were watching a fight in the stands instead of the game.