LeBron James scores 37 and Dwyane Wade scores 26 as Heat spoils Mavericks' championship celebration in opener
DALLAS — While Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks were on the court celebrating the championship they won over LeBron James and Dwyane Wade last season, the Miami Heat was gathered in another part of the building.
It wasn’t because Miami’s players dreaded watching the ceremony, they insisted.
They were simply getting ready to show everyone why they are favored to win it all this season.
James and Wade led a series of scoring waves that put Miami ahead by 35 points midway through the third quarter of an eventual 105-94 victory, the lead peaking when James soared to the rim and tipped an alley-oop pass to Wade so he could have the dunk instead. The game was essentially over then, although the Mavs reserves fueled a late rally that made the final score look close.
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“We tried to play aggressive,” James said. “We’re a focused team. We had a great training camp. We came in with the same mindset we had at practice, use our speed and play with mental focus.”
James finished with 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Wade had 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Miami scored at least 30 points in each of the first three quarters.
“Celebration or not, we had a game plan and implemented it,” Wade said. “We came out and played a good game.”
The pregame festivities might have left the Mavs emotionally drained, because they were down by 15 after one quarter and 21 at halftime. They then gave up 14 straight points early in the third quarter.
But the blowout had less to do with an emotional hangover and more to do with exposing the slow process of breaking in a new rotation. Dallas lost center Tyson Chandler and backup point guard J.J. Barea and added guard Vince Carter, do-it-all Lamar Odom and backup guard Delonte West.
“We’re going to have to forge an identity with this team; it’s a different team,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “That’s work, and it’s going to take honesty, and it’s not going to be easy.”
Carter took Dallas’ first two shots, an 18-footer and a layup. Both missed. West started the second half in his place and finished with 10 points. Carter had five points, two rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes.
Odom — the NBA’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year, who was acquired from the Lakers a few weeks ago for merely a trade exception — entered to a standing ovation, and got fans roaring again when he made a three-pointer that tied the score at 11. He missed his next five shots before getting ejected in the third quarter, but still left to loud cheers. He had four points and four rebounds in 13 minutes.
“We’ve got to get better and it will take a little time to get better,” Odom said.
Jason Terry, the former Franklin High product, sparked a Dallas rally, that started after Odom was tossed, and wound up leading Dallas with 23 points. Nowitzki had 21 in three quarters. Shawn Marion had 12 and broke the pinkie finger on his left hand.
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.