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Heat winning streak snapped by hotter Mavericks 96-98

Winter has reached South Florida and the piping hot streak has come to an end. The Miami Heat suffered a 96-98 loss to the Mavericks Monday night, ending a 12-game winning streak and continuing the 8-0 record Dallas has maintained against them since the 2006 Finals. It was a game of runs for three quarters, ending in a battle at the line and a Maverick proving why a Sixth Man award shines brightly in his abode. 1st quarter The Mavericks came in to this game like every other NBA team with the 06’ Finals defeat an added bonus to fuel the fire. Nowitzki began the show hitting his first shot (did not hit the rim or net) with Bosh in his face, the second on Ilgauskas and a third off an alley-oop; all from team co-captain Jason Kidd to fuel a 12-2 run. After contributions from various Mavs, Chris Bosh attempted to return the fire with his own Dirk imitation, relying on his shooting and scoring 8 consecutive points. A scoreless Lebron James was subbed out after two quick fouls and Dwyane Wade immediately took the keys with the force. His first drive resulted in a layup and a steal resulted in a fast break dunk. With Dallas attempting to recover, he soon followed with a deadly three pointer and a signature backwards layup with a second left in the first, capping a 10 point burst in 90 seconds to end the quarter. Heat up 23-22. 2nd Quarter The fire carried on to the second quarter, the Heat topping the run at 15-0 in 4 mins. Even Anthony joined in the fun with a nailed floater and a surprising mid-range shot in Bosh-like fashion. Rick Carlisle must have either A) read the blog, B) is just an intelligent coach or C) grew tired of an Anthony blitz. The answer is B with C a total possibility as the Mavericks countered with a 2-3 zone, neutralizing the Arroyo-Wade-Lebron backcourt. Without shooters to break down this immensely complicated defensive scheme (sarcasm may or may not be directed at coaching staff), the Mavericks once again took off on a 12-2 run. Timeout, Heat. Realizing the mismatch possibilities, Mike Miller entered the game to a standing ovation for his season debut with 4 minutes to go in the quarter. The benefits were immediate, Miller drawing his defender only to fake him out and drive past him. Wade aggressively attacked the slower Jason Kidd, Chalmers drove into the smaller JJ Barea and a rusty Miller helped space the floor although he would come up empty. Another 10-2 run in a game of runs put the Heat up late in the half only to be negated with two of Nowitzki’s usual circus-looking shots. Heat up 44-43. Lebron finished the half scoreless while on the bench with 3 fouls, Wade and Chalmers added 11 points and Bosh contributed 10 points. Oh and this craziness happened: 3rd Quarter Looking to get him going, LeBron is automatically fed the ball in post as he misses a point blank layup and a putback, keeping him scoreless. As the Heat begin the second half with the Arroyo-Wade-LeBron starting backcourt, the Mavericks go with the zone once again creating 10 unanswered points for a 55-48 Mavs lead and a Heat timeout. The Heat took the floor with equal defensive tenacity, creating LeBron’s first basket with 8 minutes to go in the third which sparked a 10-0 Heat run to counter the Mavs run and put them up 58-55. A few basket exchanges later, the double digit runs finally come to an end as the teams prepare for the battle of the fourth. Heat up 68-65. 4th Quarter After some LeBron James questionable shots, forced action and silly turnovers, the lead saw multiple changes thanks to fouls on both ends and 23 free throws stalling the game to a grind. Ultimately, the Jason Terry show was the decisive force. After going scoreless in the first three quarters, Terry went pitbull on the Heat blowing up for 17 points in the fourth. His drives were too G6 for Heat guards, his shots too quick and accurate, his swagger unmatched in the clutch. Miami in the Clutch 1. Down three with 32 seconds to go, the Miami Heat offense goes stalemate and ends with a Bosh three point attempt. Sure, the Bosh three has sporadically worked at opportune times, but it cannot be continuously relied on as a decisive clutch play. Also note, the saying "It’s not about blocking every shot, it’s about making the opponent think you will block every shot" might hold true as Wade decides to avoid the paint that Tyson Chandler so fiercely guards. Wade’s pump fake goes unnoticed and he’s forced to reset the play. 2. Down by four points with 19 seconds to go, the Heat opted for a three pointer from Dwyane Wade which did not end well. With snipers like James Jones and Mike Miller and agile attackers in Wade and LeBron one would think a better shot could be mustered. Defeating mediocre to above average teams has been entertaining but Miami is yet to establish their sovereignty over the NBA elites. Till now, the Celtics have twice proved too strong in their fellowship and the Mavericks have twice been overwhelming in their talent and vengeful bravado. Sure, it’s "just" the regular season, but matchups against the elite serve as good measure for their composure. Next test, beat LA.