Heat spoil Mavericks’ party with Christmas Day crushing

(Reuters) – 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 today’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.

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