March 29, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket as Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) looks on during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Miami won 106-85. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Home sweet home! The Heat got some revenge over their nemeses from Dallas and their 15th straight win at home.
The Miami Heat had a bit of trouble on their recent road trip, dropping consecutive games in Oklahoma City and Indiana earlier this week. The Heat have been very cozy in their own building, though, and they looked much more in their element in Thursday night's rematch of the 2011 Finals. Miami welcomed last year's title-winning foes, the Dallas Mavericks, back into the spot of their clinching victory but aspired to be less gracious this time around. They followed through, dominating the interior battle and shutting the Mavericks down in the second half for a 106-85 thumping.
The Mavericks actually came out with more firepower, unloading five three-pointers in the first quarter and taking a modest early lead. Despite 16 first half points from Dirk Nowitzki, though, Dallas slipped away in the second quarter. They simply couldn't match Miami's physical presence, granting Dwyane Wade and company visits to the free throw line while drawing no fouls themselves. All evening long, Miami approached the line far more often than Dallas did, and also dominated both backboards. They out-rebounded the Mavericks 44-29 overall and 11-6 on the offensive glass, led by nine rebounds apiece by LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
James and Bosh also led Miami's balanced scoring attack with 19 points apiece. Those two got hot in the first quarter, then watched Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem take over the second. The Heat fell into a bit of a lull after the break, but compensated by silencing Dirk Nowitzki and finally awaking in a dominant fourth quarter. The Mavericks actually chiseled the lead down to seven points in the mid-fourth quarter, but a series of sloppy passes that resulted in easy Miami baskets the other way (they outscored Dallas 13-2 overall on fast breaks) sunk their chances of a full comeback.
As a small silver lining, Dallas got decent contributions from two player who hadn't been part of the equation previously. Lamar Odom, who has struggled all season, had his second solid game in a row and played a big role in keeping the Mavs' hopes alive through a rough third quarter. Delonte West, returning from a gruesome finger injury, played eight minutes off the bench and drilled all three of his field goal attempts, including a three-ball fresh out of his seat.
Those bench offerings weren't enough to cover for Nowitzki's sub-par second half, though, and collapsed down the stretch of their comeback effort, falling to 29-23. Miami reached 36-13 overall with their 15th(!) straight win at home.
For all of Thursday's NBA box scores, check out SI.com's NBA scoreboard.