Once the Miami Heat found a way to rally in the final moments of regulation, they made overtime look easy.
LeBron James scored 32 points and finished one assist shy of a triple-double, Dwyane Wade scored 27 and the Heat pulled off both early and late before beating the Dallas Mavericks 119-109 in overtime Wednesday night.
Down 100-94 with 3:02 remaining in regulation, the Heat closed the game on a 25-9 run — and sent Dallas to its sixth loss in as many overtime games this season.
"We have ultimate confidence in our team, our talent level, our execution," said Chris Bosh, who scored 17 points for Miami. "And we believe in each other. To know we can be down by six with 3 minutes left and still have the confidence to overcome everything and get the job done, it works out great."
Ray Allen added 15 for Miami, which extended its Eastern Conference-leading record to 22-8 despite trailing by 12 in the opening minutes. James had 12 rebounds and nine assists for the Heat, who scored the first seven points of overtime.
O.J. Mayo scored 30 and Dirk Nowitzki — still working his way back from knee surgery — added 19 in 29 minutes for the Mavericks.
"It shouldn't have gotten to overtime," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "We were up six with a couple minutes to go and our inability to keep them out of the paint was our downfall."
Vince Carter had 15 points, Chris Kaman scored 14 and Darren Collison finished with 11 for Dallas.
Allen hit a 3-pointer to start overtime, James scored on a stepback over Nowitzki and Wade came up with a steal and dunk to put Miami up 110-103 early in the extra session, and the Heat weren't in trouble again. James sealed it with a three-point play with 48.6 seconds left.
"Don't take anything away from Dallas," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They played a very good basketball game. It's not as if we were necessarily letting them score. It was highly competitive at both ends."
Dallas looked to be in control when Nowitzki rattled home a 3-pointer with 3:37 left in regulation, putting the Mavericks up 100-94.
Appearances were deceiving.
Late in regulation, James set up Shane Battier — who had missed all three of his previous shots in the game — for a 3 that put Miami up 103-101. James went to Battier at one point in the second half and urged him to keep shooting when he had opportunities.
Little did they know Battier would get such a crucial chance.
"The right basketball play," said James, who finished exactly one assist shy of a triple-double for the 12th time.
Dallas didn't call time-out, and Nowitzki scored from the right side of the lane to tie the game with 3.9 seconds remaining. James missed a contested jumper as time expired, and off to overtime they went.
From there, all Miami.
"That's the NBA. We're not that dominant where we can come in and blow every team out," Wade said. "You've got to respect these other teams. They're good. They come in and play very well against us so we've got find ways to win ballgames. That's what it's all about right now."
James extended his streaks of scoring at least 20 points to 30 consecutive games this season, 35 regular-season games going back to last season and 51 straight games overall when including last season's playoff run.
The teams met two weeks ago in Dallas, a game where the Heat simply dominated start to finish and led by as many as 36.
This one was decidedly different.
Dallas was up 18-7 before Nowitzki even entered the game and led by as many as 12 late in the first quarter — thanks in part to the Mavericks grabbing 19 of the game's first 27 rebounds — and still held a 10-point lead when Mayo connected on a jumper midway through the second quarter. That's when the Heat put together its best run of the opening half, a 16-6 spurt led by James.
Still tied midway through the third, Miami seemed to have grabbed some control with a 14-5 run that gave the Heat a 78-69 edge. But the Mavs ripped off the next eight points, starting with a 3-pointer by Carter and then a 3-pointer and a layup by Nowitzki that got Dallas within a point again.
Dallas reclaimed the lead at 88-87 on a 3-pointer by Mayo midway through the fourth, and only a few moments after Wade chased down and blocked a layup try by Collision to keep Miami within three, Mayo struck again from beyond the arc in the left corner by the Heat bench to put the Mavs up 97-91 with 4:09 remaining.
They just couldn't finish the job.
"Execution down the stretch has been one of our problems all year," Nowitzki said. "We're 0-6 in overtime and lost a lot of close ones during the season in regulation. We've got to work on that."
NOTES: It was trophy night for James, who was presented with his USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year award by Heat President Pat Riley in a brief halftime ceremony. And just before tipoff, the NBA announced James was the Eastern Conference's player of the month for December. ... It was the 21st time Nowitzki played at Miami, and just the second game where he came off the bench while visiting the Heat. He also didn't start in his first-ever game at Miami in 1999. ... An errant pass by James struck a courtside cameraman in the third quarter. The man was tended to briefly for what appeared to be a small cut, and James went over to shake the photographer's hand.