LeBron James and the Miami Heat couldn't keep the Dallas Mavericks from winning the most recent NBA championship. They did a nice job, however, of getting the Mavs' title defense off to an ugly start.
The Heat beat the Mavericks 105-94 Sunday in a game that was hardly ever as close as the final score might suggest.
Maybe the pregame banner-raising ceremony left the Mavs emotionally drained or -- more likely -- the overhaul of their roster is slow to take hold. The newly minted champs were down by 15 after one quarter, 21 at halftime, and 35 a few minutes into the second half.
Dwyane Wade had 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the Heat cemented their status as the preseason favorite to win it all.
Dallas hardly showed any life until newcomer Lamar Odom was ejected for something he said while arguing a charging call late in the third quarter. Soon after, Jason Terry fueled a surged that got the Mavs within 17 midway through the fourth. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle recognized how unlikely it was that they would come all the way back, so he kept Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion on the bench the entire final period. The remainder of the Mavericks' rally was by deep reserves.
Terry ended up leading Dallas with 23 points. Nowitzki scored 21 in three quarters. Marion scored 12, and Delonte West added 10 in his Dallas debut.
Odom -- the NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year, who was acquired from the Lakers a few weeks ago for merely a trade exception -- entered to a standing ovation, and got fans roaring again when he made a 3-pointer that tied the game at 11. He missed his next five shots before getting tossed, but still left to loud cheers. He had four points and four rebounds in 13 minutes.
NBA Commissioner David Stern attended the game and took part in the banner raising ceremony. Fans greeted him with boos, perhaps showing disgust over the lockout that delayed the start of the season from Nov. 1 and shrunk the season by 16 games.