Dallas, TX – The celebration didn't last long.
For the Heat, the whooping was a measure of revenge after June's six-game NBA Finals defeat at the hands of the Mavs. LeBron James, largely maligned for his underwhelming Finals performance, dominated on Sunday, pouring in 37 points and going 15-of-19 from the foul line. Dwyane Wade added 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists, as the Heat led by as many as 35.
Key offseason acquisition Lamar Odom scored just four points and was ejected in the third quarter for arguing a charging call. Delonte West and Vince Carter, also new additions to the Mavs, finished with 10 and five points, respectively.
Just six months removed from their first-ever NBA title, the Mavericks appeared to be suffering from a hangover of sorts. The abbreviated two-game preseason -- a product of the league's lengthy lockout -- also appeared to diminish a Dallas team which underwent a noticeable offseason overhaul.
Missing from the pregame ceremony was defensive anchor Tyson Chandler, who landed in New York during the brief offseason. Odom, a former Laker, enjoyed a lackluster debut before his hasty exit and Carter went just 2-for-6 from the field in 20 minutes.
The result was a cohesive and focused Miami team, which dominated the opening half to the tune of a 62-41 lead at the break. James had 18 points over that span, while Wade poured in 14.
The second half proved no different, as the Heat opened with a 16-2 run, extending their advantage to 78-43 on James' tip-pass alley-oop to Wade. At that point, James and Wade had single-handedly outscored the entire Dallas team, combining for 45.
The Mavs scored the game's final eight points to make the final score respectable, but the outcome was never in question.
The NBA lockout began July 1 and officially ended on December 8, when players and owners agreed to a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement. The result: a shortened, 66-game regular season...Dallas captured its first-ever NBA title in its 31st season...James' 37 points were a Heat opening-day record...The Mavericks host the Nuggets on Monday, then have a back-to-back later in the week, visiting the Thunder on Thursday before hosting the Raptors on Friday...The Heat host the Celtics on Tuesday and visit the Bobcats on Wednesday.