DALLAS - After Miami completely dismantled the Dallas Mavericks, 110-95, Thursday night at American Airlines Center, center Chris Kaman couldn't do anything but tip his hat at the impressive way the defending NBA champs went about their business.
“They've got guys on their bench that are great players they don't even see the light of day,'' said Kaman, who finished with eight points and two rebounds. “They definitely are going to have a chance at making another run at it for sure.
“I see them as the top one or two teams in the Eastern Conference, and the top one or two teams in the entire NBA. There's some good teams out there, but they are among the elite.''
And elite teams usually make quick work of short-handed teams. That's precisely what Miami did as it stretched a 58-42 halftime lead to as much as 91-55 late in the third quarter before coasting to the finish line.
“They were playing us tough all night,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. “They were making tough shots when we weren't, then we had poor breakdowns as the game went on. “It was very disappointing on how we played, but we'll have to forget it quickly because we have another tough one tomorrow.”
The Mavs (12-14) play at Memphis at 7 p.m. Friday at FedEx Forum as they try to regroup after losing four of their past five games.
The loss to the Heat was so swift, anyone who went to the popcorn stand probably missed it. One minute the Mavs were only down 36-33 early in the second quarter, and the next minute they were getting run completely out of their own arena.
“We just missed a lot of shots from point-blank range and never really got into a really good offensive rhythm,'' said OJ Mayo, who was just 3 of 14 from the floor and scored eight points. “So we’ve just got to wash this one away and get ready for tomorrow.
“I was just missing shots — it wasn't a good one. You wish you could play good every game, but sometimes it's not a good one.”
Dallas shot a frosty 38.5 percent from the field and got battered on the boards, 47-36. LeBron James finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Dwyane Wade had 19 points and six assists, and Chris Bosh collected 17 points and seven boards.
Rookie Jae Crowder led Dallas with 15 points, Bernard James had 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, Dahntay Jones tallied 12 points, and Darren Collison added 11 points and five assists.
Also for the Mavs, Shawn Marion had 10 points and nine rebounds, and Vince Carter finished with 10 points.
“Their team is very impressive,'' Carlisle said. “LeBron James is getting better and better and better.
“Wade is still a great player, Bosh is just the perfect complimentary player for those two guys and the rest of the team. Their three-point shooting, their toughness, their discipline; all that stuff is really big time.”
Too big-time for a Mavs team that was missing Dirk Nowitzki, Derek Fisher, Elton Brand and Brandan Wright.
“We played short-handed the other night (against Philadelphia) and won,'' Kaman said. “The Miami Heat does a great job.
“They mix the game up and are tough with all the pressure they put on you on the traps and the shows and the different defensive schemes that they run.
“They try to junk it up a little bit, and they did that and it slowed us down and we didn't do a good job for the most part defensively.''
The only way the final score was respectable was because the Mavs' reserves won the fourth quarter, 34-19. Other than that, this was a total blowout reminisce of opening day last season on Christmas when the Heat came to Dallas and led the Mavs by 35 points midway through the third period before settling for a 105-94 victory.
Kaman diagnosed the issues the Mavs had Thursday succinctly.
“They put a lot of pressure on you with the pick-and-rolls, and obviously we run a lot of pick-and-rolls,'' Kaman said. “That's kind of a part of our offense is the pick-and-rolls, and when that wasn't going well at the start we kind of got in a little funk.
“We don't have like a ton of plays to run, and we just kept kind of digging ourselves in a little bit of a hole on defense and then coming back and not getting plays.''
Ironically, a Mavs team that has been plagued by turnovers all season finally took care of the basketball. Dallas committed a season-low nine turnovers, but still came away with a loss in a game that wasn't even close.
“I thought we did a decent job of taking care of the basketball,'' Kaman said. “We had a second group that came in and gave us a little lift, but we just struggled all night.
“Just the whole night, the full 48 minutes, it wasn't a good effort on our part. It's not like the game was ever close.''
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760