Thing is, the odds of seeing James shoot 37 times in a game -- like Rudy Gay did earlier this week in setting the NBA high so far this season -- are quite slim. His career-high is 36. He's only taken 30 or more shots twice since joining the Heat; both of those came in regular-season losses.
"He understands the main thing being the main thing," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He wants to win more than anything."
James had never scored more than 38 when taking 18 or fewer shots, and missed just four times on Friday. Wade finished with 17 points and eight assists to go along with those steals.
"I was in a groove in a different kind of way," said Wade, now the second player in Heat history with an eight-assist, eight-steal game, joining Tim Hardaway. "I was kind of in a zone defensively."
"Our effort was good," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "The turnovers doomed us."
Miami led by as many as 13 in the second half, then actually trailed, and needed to play the final 5:01 without point guard Mario Chalmers. He was ejected after referees ruled he intentionally swung an elbow at Nowitzki's head while trying to fight through a screen set by the Mavs' Samuel Dalembert.
Chalmers helped Nowitzki up after the play, but the damage was done.
Chalmers argued the flagrant foul 2, but referee Ron Garretson's review of the video didn't do anything to change the officiating crew's collective minds, and the Heat starter was done for the night. Nowitzki made both free throws after the flagrant to get Dallas within three, then added a jumper 44 seconds later to cut Miami's lead to 98-97.
But the Mavs never got the lead again.
"If we go out and compete every night at this high level and turn our turnovers down, we can beat anybody in this league," Ellis said.
The defending champs are trying to three-peat. The Heat Index.
Shane Battier started for Haslem and was guarding Nowitzki, who hit three 3-pointers from the top of the key in the game's first 5:03 and helped the Mavs run out to an early seven-point edge. But the Heat led for the final 10:19 of the half, opening up as much as a 12-point lead before settling on a 60-51 edge at the half.
James had 18 at the break, while Wade was already up to a 13-point, five-assist, four-rebound, three-steal night. And Wade stuffed his stats more early in the third, first with a layup, then moments later with a steal and assist to set up a dunk by James, putting the Heat up 66-53 with 10:16 left in the third.
That closed what was a 52-32 run by Miami.
Without warning, the pendulum swung back Dallas' way.
"We couldn't finish it," Calderon said. "But we fought."
Over the next seven minutes, the Heat missed 10 of 11 shots -- four of them getting blocked -- and the Mavericks took full advantage, reclaiming the lead with a 19-4 run. Calderon had six of Dallas' points in that spurt, including a 3-pointer with 3:20 left that put the Mavs on top 72-70.
They kept the lead for all of 21 seconds.
Miami scored 16 points in the final 2:59 of the third, nine of those points coming on a combined 74 feet worth of jump shots from James, and the Heat took an 86-78 lead into the final 12 minutes.
James is shooting 69 percent in his last three games, 61 percent for the season.
"He's getting there," Wade said. "You can see it."
James' oldest son had 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a game Thursday, and afterward, the boy proclaimed he had a triple-double. His father, who's had 36 of them in the pros, then set him straight on what a triple-double is. ... Carlisle said G Shane Larkin (ankle) is getting closer to making his debut. Carlisle was once coached by Jim Larranaga, Larkin's coach at the University of Miami. ... The teams combined for eight entries on the NBA All-Star ballot released Friday. James, Wade, Bosh, Allen and Chalmers represent Miami; Shawn Marion, Nowitzki and Ellis were on there for Dallas.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots against the Dallas Mavericks on November 15,...