Once again, with no championship at stake, the Miami Heat simply couldn’t beat the Dallas Mavericks.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 30 points on 12-for-14 shooting, Jason Terry scored 20 and Jason Kidd finished with 11 assists as the Mavericks beat the Heat for the ninth straight time in the regular season, 111-96 on Saturday night.
The Mavericks shot a season-best 60 percent against a Heat team that came in allowing a 44 percent clip this season. And yes, both Nowitzki and Terry acknowledged that the return to Miami conjured up memories of the 2006 NBA finals, when the Heat captured the title in six games.
“As long as that banner is hanging up there, you’re always going to think about that,” Terry said.
Dwyane Wade scored 30 points for Miami, which lost for the second straight night. Wade was honored at halftime, along with Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning, for winning Olympic gold. Banners in their honor were uncovered next to the one commemorating the 2006 NBA title.
But there was no magic to be had: The Heat still haven’t beaten Dallas in a regular season game since March 26, 2004.
“They wouldn’t miss,” Wade said. “Our best game would have had trouble winning tonight.”
Michael Beasley finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, which also got 17 points from Mario Chalmers and 10 from Udonis Haslem.
Josh Howard finished with 15, while Jose Barea and Brandon Bass each added 11 for the Mavericks.
Dallas shot better than 50 percent in only seven of its first 45 games this season, but knocked down a dizzying array of shots, regardless of whether its players were covered or left wide open.
And the Mavericks used a 16-5 run, going 6-for-7 from the floor during the stretch, to put the game away midway through the second half.
Wade hit a jumper to get Miami within 75-65, but any comeback thoughts quickly were stomped out by Dallas. Terry had six points in the game-sealing spurt, including a jumper with 10:43 left that gave the Mavs what was their biggest lead to that point, 91-70.
“That was one heck of a shooting display they put on,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That looked like a highly motivated, inspired, veteran team that knew what they were playing for. It wasn’t necessarily to beat us. They came out with an incredible, desperate energy and a focus offensively. They were playing at a different speed than we were.”
Adding injury to insult, Heat guard Daequan Cook limped into the locker room with 4:05 left, suffering a left thigh injury after a hit from Dallas’ James Singleton. Cook left the arena on crutches, unable to put weight on his leg.
Miami led only once, and it was for a mere 17 seconds of the opening quarter. Other than that, Dallas did whatever it wanted, with Kidd slicing through the Heat defense off the dribble time and again, setting up teammates for easy layups or open looks from the outside.
Down by nine after the first quarter, Miami tried to rally with a 34-point outburst in the second.
Problem was, that only shaved one point off Dallas’ lead, since the Mavericks shot 77 percent—13-for-17—in the period, with Nowitzki making all four of his attempts to finish a 7-for-8, 17-point first-half effort.
“I was right there with him on every shot,” Haslem said. “I give credit to him. If they can shoot the ball like that, they’re going to be tough to beat.”
Wade scored to open the second half and get Miami within six, but the Heat got no closer. Nowitzki made a 3-pointer early in the third to push Dallas’ lead back to 12, and the Mavs held the double-digit cushion for the game’s final 20 minutes.
“Dirk is a guy that because he is so great, I think we take him for granted sometimes,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “He made 12-for-14 against a top defensive team look pretty easy.”