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Dirk picks up the slack in a big way

MIAMI (AP) -- Instead of making a serious run at acquiring
Shaquille O'Neal over the summer, the Dallas Mavericks built their
team around Dirk Nowitzki.

The logic couldn't be faulted Thursday, when Nowitzki helped
hand what was the NBA's last unbeaten team its first loss of the
season.

Nowitzki had 41 points, two off his career high, and Marquis
Daniels added 22 in Dallas' 113-93 win over Miami that ended the
Heat's franchise-record 14-game home win streak.

"We had a great night," Nowitzki said. "Everybody was
shooting well, and it didn't matter from where they shot it. We did
a lot of things right. We shot the ball well, we drove to the
basket and got to the foul line."

Nowitzki shot 12-of-24 from the floor, 4-for-7 from 3-point
range, 13-for-13 from the line and added 10 rebounds for Dallas
(5-1).

"I'm wondering how he missed those 12 shots. ... He was really
on," said Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who watched from behind the
Dallas bench.

O'Neal had 22 points -- giving him 22,002 for his career -- and 10
rebounds for the Heat (4-1). Dwyane Wade added 20 points, eight
rebounds and five assists before spraining his left ankle with 7:07
left. X-rays were negative, and Wade said he believed the injury
was minor.

"We had a lot of defensive lapses and they shot the ball
well," O'Neal said. "Most of the shots in the first half were
wide-open jumpers. ... We got into a hole, and I felt we had a
couple opportunities to get out of the hole but they shot the ball
well. Dirk had a hell of a game. He's a great player."

Miami, which won its first four games by an average of 12.8
points, never led. The Heat allowed 71 points in the first half,
were hit with four technicals by halftime and let Dallas shoot 52
percent for the game.

"Our players were talking about everything except defense,"
Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. "That was the problem in my mind.
That's where the lack of composure was, focusing in and saying
'this is the problem right here, 71 points.' That never really got
through to us."

Dallas led by 14 at halftime, then opened the third quarter with
an 18-4 burst to push its lead to 89-63 against a team that trailed
by 4 minutes, 44 seconds in its first four games. Miami got within
95-82 after three, but never got closer.

Dallas shot only 29.2 percent two nights earlier in Orlando, but
the Mavericks came out firing against Miami -- which held its first
four opponents to 41 percent shooting. Dallas made 11 of its first
15 shots, while Miami missed 10 of its first 13.

"It's fun when you have success going in with a game plan,"
said Mavs guard Jerry Stackhouse, who scored 12. "When you execute
the game plan, you achieve great results."

A 13-0 Mavericks' run -- highlighted by a 28-foot,
shot-clock-beating 3-pointer by Nowitzki -- gave Dallas a 25-8 lead
with 4:18 left in the opening quarter.

Miami chipped away, and drew within 50-42 on Damon Jones'
3-pointer with 5:52 left in the half. But Dallas scored on its next
three possessions and never let the Heat get within 10 points
again.

Nelson -- the inventor of the "hack-a-Shaq" scheme -- ordered it
used on three trips in the second quarter, hoping it'd disrupt
Miami's offense.

It worked; O'Neal, a challenged foul shooter, made three of the
six free throws earned by being fouled near midcourt by Alan
Henderson and Calvin Booth, Miami's momentum slowed down the
stretch and the Heat trailed 71-57 at halftime.

"It's not annoying because in the long run over my career he
has never beat me," O'Neal said. "And he will never beat me."
Keyon Dooling had 14 points and Rasual Butler added 11 for
Miami, which is at San Antonio on Friday -- and has won there only
once in 17 tries.

"It's the first time we've experienced some adversity," Butler
said. "As long as we learn from this, we'll be fine."

Game notes
Nowitzki's 11 free throws were the most an opponent ever
managed against Miami in a first half. ... O'Neal became the 20th
player to score 22,000 regular-season points. ... Daniels has 53
points in two games at Miami. ... Dallas reserve C D.J. Mbenga was
whistled for three fouls in a 52-second span of the second quarter.
... Heat G Eddie Jones shot 1-for-11 and is now connecting on 36.2
percent of his tries this season. ... About 100 people commemorated
Veterans' Day by participating in an U.S. Army enlistment ceremony
at halftime. ... Tennis players Boris Becker and Anna Kournikova
were in the crowd. ... No team has scored 100 points on Dallas this
year.