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Heat 119, Mavericks 109 (OT)

The SportsXchange

MIAMI - LeBron James had 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists to lead the Miami Heat to a 119-109 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

James has scored at least 20 points in all 30 games this season, the most 20-plus-point games by an NBA player to begin the season since George Gervin went 45 games in 1981-82.

The Heat improved to 22-8, the best record in the Eastern Conference. And while the Heat stands just one game over .500 on the road, they are dominant at home (15-2).

The Mavericks (13-20) have lost seven of their past eight games. Guard O.J. Mayo led the Mavs with 30 points and six assists.

Mayo was big down the stretch, scoring 12 of his points after the third quarter. It is his fourth game of the season with 30 or more points.

All-star Dirk Nowitzki played his sixth game of the season -- all of them off the bench -- and scored a season-high 19 points. He missed the first 27 games this season after knee surgery and has yet to return to his previous form, although his performance against Miami was a positive sign.

Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer with 3:44 left in regulation to give the Mavs a 100-94 lead. But the Heat rallied to take a 103-101 lead on a 3-pointer by Shane Battier with 15 seconds left.

That set up a fall-away jumper in the lane by Nowitzki, which tied the score with three seconds left. When James missed a jumper at the buzzer, overtime was required.

The Heat cruised from there, and guard Dwyane Wade finished with 27 points. He also made 8 of 9 on the foul line. That's noteworthy because he is coming off a game in which he made just 2 of 10 foul shots against Orlando. It was a rare slump at the line for a career 77-percent shooter.

In that game, Miami also allowed Magic center Nikola Vucevic to grab 29 rebounds, the most ever by a Heat opponent. On Wednesday, the Heat did a better job on the boards, losing the battle by only one, 47-46.

The Heat also made 10 of 26 on 3-point attempts against the Mavs. For the season the Heat ranks second in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage (39.9). Only nine teams have shot over 40 percent on 3-pointers for an entire season. The record is held by Charlotte, which shot 42.8 percent in 1996-1997.

NOTES: James was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for December, when he averaged 27.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists. Also Wednesday, he was named the USA Basketball Player of the Year, his first such honor. The award has been around since 1980, and only Michael Jordan and Alonzo Mourning have won it twice. ... Forward Brandan Wright, the Mavs' eighth-leading scorer (8.0 points per game), sat out Wednesday due to a leg injury. ... For the season, the Heat is next to last in the league in rebounds and 22nd in rebound differential (minus-2.2). The last team to be outrebounded in a season and still win an NBA title was the Houston Rockets in 1995. "We've proven we can rebound," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, "but we have to be a group-rebounding team. When one guy takes a mini-vacation, it hurts us." ... Only two Mavericks remain with the team that beat the Heat for the NBA title in 2011 -- 34-year-olds Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion. ... Next up for the Heat are home games Friday (Chicago Bulls) and Sunday (Washington Wizards) before Miami starts a six-game road trip. ... The Mavs are off for a
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