Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 11/25

Game 1: Friday, November 25th
Game 2: Thursday, February 9th

Mavericks 103

(9-2, 4-2 away)

Heat 90

(7-5, 6-2 home)

8:00 PM ET, November 25, 2005

AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

1 2 3 4 T
DAL 27 30 17 29103
MIA 22 23 23 2290

Top Performers

Dal: J. Howard 25 Pts, 11 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl

Mia: J. Williams 24 Pts, 6 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl

Howard, Nowitzki power Dallas past Miami

MIAMI (AP) -- The Miami Heat have been among the NBA's best teams at home over the last couple of seasons.

That is, except when the Dallas Mavericks make their once-a-year trip to South Florida.

Josh Howard scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Dirk Nowitzki hit a couple of big 3-pointers to cap his 23-point effort as the Mavericks squandered most of a 15-point lead before recovering to beat Miami 103-90 on Friday night -- the second straight time Dallas has won on the Heat's home court.

Erick Dampier scored 17 points, Marquis Daniels added 14 and Jason Terry had 10 points and 10 assists for Dallas, which extended the league's longest winning streak to seven and snapped Miami's string of six straight home victories.

"It's a fun place to play," Nowitzki said after his team handed Miami only its eighth loss in the past 61 home regular-season games. "It's a great city. The fans get into it. Obviously, the team they have is great, so it's easy to motivate yourself."

And whenever the fans got into it on Friday, Howard and Nowitzki came to the rescue.

The Heat, who trailed for the game's final 43 minutes, got within two points on three occasions in the second half -- yet never recaptured the lead. Jason Williams' driving layup with 9:15 left got Miami within 76-74, but Dallas answered with the next 10 points -- including seven straight by Howard -- to reclaim control.

"We know how to play well with a lead," Howard said. "We let them slip back in, but we kept fighting and finished the game."

Later, it was Nowitzki's turn to silence the crowd. His 3-pointer with 4:31 left gave Dallas a 91-78 lead; Miami scored the next four points, but Nowitzki hit another 3-pointer about a minute later to seal the win.

"We stayed mentally focused, especially on the offensive end," Howard said. "We made sure that they only got one shot and we got the rebound. We went down and finished on the other end. We hit some big shots and we hit our free throws at the end -- which was big."

Williams scored a season-high 24 points for Miami. Dwyane Wade added 23 for the Heat, which also got 14 from Udonis Haslem, and 13 from Alonzo Mourning -- who had six blocks, adding to his NBA-leading average this season.

"I don't really care about my offensive night," Williams said. "We just need to get some wins."

Dallas was 8-of-15 from 3-point range, hitting many at critical times and taking momentum away from the Heat -- who were 0-for-11 from behind the arc and missed nine of their 29 free-throw attempts.

But Heat coach Stan Van Gundy chose to point the blaming finger in his own direction.

"At the offensive end, I didn't do a good job," Van Gundy said. "I didn't find stuff for us to run."

The win pushed Mavericks coach Avery Johnson's regular-season record to 25-4, which moved him one win away from matching the best 30-game start in NBA history. Al Cervi's career began with a 26-4 record with the Syracuse Nationals in the 1949-50 season.

"Dallas has been scoring a lot of points," Heat forward James Posey said. "And now that Avery's the head man, they've got defense to go with it as well."

Dallas led by as many as 15 in the first half -- the largest deficit Miami had faced this season -- before settling for a 57-45 lead at intermission.

Haslem opened the second half with consecutive jump shots, and Williams made two free throws to quickly trim Dallas' 12-point lead in half. But Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer and added a three-point play in an 88-second span to extend the Mavericks' cushion back to 63-52.

Miami scored the next 10 points, with Wade and Mourning each getting four apiece, to get within 63-62 -- but again, the Heat didn't take the lead. And when Van Horn hit another 3-pointer with 3:19 left in the quarter, Dallas' lead was back at 70-63.

"They made a run. They're a very good basketball team," Johnson said. "The second half, they got it within two, and we just suggested 'stay tough-minded.' And we were able to get somewhat of a cushion."

Game notes

Miami was without Shaquille O'Neal for the 10th straight game because of his sprained right ankle. ... The Mavericks wore their green-and-blue alternate road uniforms, which hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs designed last season. Wade has also modeled Diddy's designs. ... The Heat missed their first four free throws. ... Before the game, Dallas waived veteran guard Doug Christie, who left the team last week to have his surgically repaired ankle examined by a private physician. ... Miami lost to a Western Conference team for the first time in five games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 103 90
FGM-FGA 37-74 (.500) 35-80 (.438)
3PM-3PA 8-15 (.533) 0-11 (.000)
FTM-FTA 21-24 (.875) 20-29 (.690)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-40 12-35
Assists 19 12
Turnovers 15 12
Steals 7 9
Blocks 2 6
Fast Break Points 18 15
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (1/0) 19 (1/0)
Largest Lead 16 4

Top Performers

Josh Howard Howard
Points: 25
Reb: 11
Ast: 1
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Jason Williams Williams
Points: 24
Reb: 6
Ast: 5
Stl: 2
Blk: 0