Apparently, the Miami Heat are only able to beat the Dallas Mavericks if the two are playing in the NBA Finals. Dirk Nowitzki dropped 26 points while Jason Terry scored all of his 19 late in the fourth quarter as the Mavericks ended the Heat's 12-game winning streak in a 98-96 final Monday night. It was Dallas' 14th-straight regular season beatdown of the Heat. LeBron James was held scoreless in the first half, getting tagged with foul trouble.
The Heat's impressive run of 12-straight victories is over. But we all know what really matters here is that the Heat Haters are now free to hate again! Oh Heat Haters. You're incorrigible!
The game was tight throughout, but the Heat let things slip away in the fourth quarter when Jason Terry began his scoring barrage, and then did that airplane celebration thing he does when he scores a lot. Jason Terry is Mr. December!
The problem for Miami was twofold: A struggling LeBron and a lack of hitting the boards. While the Mavs only out-rebounded Miami by four (48-44), it was the second chance points that killed the Heat. Ex-Heater Sean Marion, in particular, cock slapped Miami with a 13-rebound night. Even while the Heat found themselves within a point four separate times, Dallas would keep pulling away with sharp-shooting and rebounds.
No rebound was bigger than the one Dallas nabbed after a Nowitzki airball with 1:25 remaining in the fourth. With the Mavericks holding an 86-85 lead, Miami's defense forced Dirk into an arcing shot that missed horribly. Miami grabs that loose ball, and they could be on their way to taking the lead and controlling the game. Instead, Marion grabbed the rebound and tossed it to Terry, who buried the three-pointer, putting Dallas up 89-85.
The remainder of the game would be a series of last gasps and fouls by the Heat, but to no avail. The last team the Heat lost to 12 games ago would be the same team that ended their streak.
"We're going to continue to get better," Wade told the media afterward. "To improve, to get to the elite level. We're 30 games in. These elite teams, they've played together for a long time."
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Playing together, yes. It would also help if LeBron wouldn't foul everyone on the opposing team like they were Delonte West, forcing him to miss crucial minutes.
And while the media will now pounce on this one two-point loss as the sole reason why the Miami Heat are an unmitigated disaster, the team feels confident going forward. And they should. Miami went through a gauntlet of tough games during the streak, including the visit to Cleveland, a convincing win at Utah (first place Utah doesn't count as an elite team, apparently) ;and a blow out of the Knicks in New York (in the media's eyes, the Knicks were AWWESOWWME! Until the Heat beat them, then they suddenly morphed into "meh").
It's still a work in progress, even if the Hate Machine is all revved up again.