LeBron James got off to a surprisingly slow start but kicked into gear to lift NBA champions Miami to a 119-109 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.
Eight-times All Star James finished with a game-high 32 points and 12 rebounds, and guard Dwyane Wade weighed in with 27 points, as Miami cemented their place at the top of the Eastern Conference with their 15th home win of the season.
The Heat improved their overall record to 22-8 after being tested to the full in a clash of the last two NBA champions.
O.J. Mayo led the way with 30 points for the Mavericks while 11-times All Star Dirk Nowitzki, despite not being back to his best following knee surgery, had 19 points off the bench.
Dallas made a fast start, surging 12 points clear at 30-18 after an unanswered 10-0 run before ending the opening quarter 30-22 ahead. James earned just six points on three-for-eight shooting from the field.
However, the Mavericks steadily pulled back as James ominously began to find his range and they cut the deficit to 52-50 by half-time.
James poured in a three-pointer to give Miami a 81-79 lead after the third quarter but Dallas regained control and a Mayo three-pointer put them 97-91 up with just over four minutes left.
A Shane Battier three-pointer lifted the Heat ahead 103-101 with 14.5 seconds to go before Nowitski responded with a fadeaway jump shot to take the game into overtime.
After veteran Ray Allen poured in a three-pointer, James followed up with a bank shot to put Miami 108-103 up and there was no way back from there for Dallas.