LeBron James got off to a surprisingly slow start, but kicked into gear to lift NBA champions Miami to a 119-109 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.
Eight-times All Star James finished with a game-high 32 points and 12 rebounds, and guard Dwyane Wade weighed in with 27 points, as Miami cemented their place at the top of the Eastern Conference with their 15th home win of the season.
The Heat improved their overall record to 22-8 after being tested to the full in a clash of the last two NBA champions.
O.J. Mayo led the way with 30 points for the Mavericks, while 11-time All Star Dirk Nowitzki, despite not being back to his best following knee surgery, had 19 points off the bench.
Dallas made a fast start, surging 12 points clear at 30-18 after an unanswered 10-0 run before ending the opening quarter 30-22 ahead. James earned just six points on three-for-eight shooting from the field.
However, the Mavericks steadily pulled back as James ominously began to find his range and they cut the deficit to 52-50 by halftime.
James poured in a three-pointer to give Miami a 81-79 lead after the third quarter, but Dallas regained control and a Mayo three-pointer put them 97-91 up with just more than four minutes left.
A Shane Battier three-pointer lifted the Heat ahead 103-101 with 14.5 seconds to go, before Nowitski responded with a fadeaway jump shot to take the game into overtime.
After veteran Ray Allen poured in a three-pointer, James followed up with a bank shot to put Miami 108-103 up and there was no way back from there for Dallas.
WARRIORS 115, CLIPPERS 94
Stephen Curry had 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 115-94 win on Wednesday over Los Angeles, handing the Clippers their second straight loss.
David Lee finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, while Klay Thompson nailed five three-pointers en route to 19 points for the Warriors at Oracle Arena. Golden State have now won four straight.
Los Angeles closed out last year on a franchise-record 17-game win streak, but the Clippers lost a 92-78 contest to the Denver Nuggets on New Year’s Day.
Jamal Crawford led the Clippers with 24 points, while Chris Paul added 23 points and six assists in the loss.
In other games, it was:
‧ Toronto 102, Portland 79
‧ Chicago 96, Orlando 94
‧ Sacramento 97, Cleveland
‧ Indiana 89, Washington 81
‧ Memphis 93, Boston 83
‧ San Antonio 117, Milwaukee
‧ Houston 104, New Orleans
‧ Brooklyn 110, Oklahoma
‧ Utah 106, Minnesota 84
‧ Phoenix 95, Philadelphia 89