NBA-Heat spoil Mavericks' party with Christmas Day crushing

Reuters

Sun, 25 Dec 23:29:00 2011

The Miami Heat gained a little revenge for their loss in last year's NBA finals, by spoiling the Dallas Mavericks' championship celebration with a resounding 105-94 victory on Sunday's opening day of the season.

LeBron James was on fire as Miami ran away with the game, taking a 97-65 lead after three quarters, before allowing Dallas, who never led, to make the score respectable in the fourth.

The game was part of a five-game Christmas opening day to the delayed and reduced 66-game regular season, after the five month lockout during the dispute between players and owners over a new collective contract.

The Heat had to wait in their locker room as the Mavericks raised their championship banner minutes before the start of the game as Dallas players, wearing "2011 NBA Champions" on the back of their tracksuits, celebrated.

But when the game got underway, finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki and team-mates Jason Kidd and Jason Terry were swept aside by an impressive Heat, who showed exactly why they are the favorites for the title this season.

James scored 37 points and had 10 rebounds and six assists while Dwyane Wade contributed 26 points with eight rebounds and six assists, as the Heat's two biggest names offered an early reminder of their quality.

The pattern for the game was set in the first quarter with Miami establishing a 32-17 lead while Dallas had more turnovers than rebounds.

Dallas looked to be missing the defensive influence of Tyson Chandler, who they traded to the Knicks, and their biggest off-season arrival, Lamar Odom from the Los Angeles Lakers, was ejected in the third quarter and ended with just four points and four rebounds.

Miami began with the same starting line-up that ended Game Six of last season's finals but gave first round draft pick Norris Cole an early chance and he impressed.

The Heat looked improved an a number of areas with Udonis Haslam now back to full fitness and free agent signing Shane Battier making his debut.

Please double click on the newslink: for more NBA stories

 

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account