James sparks late run to turn up heat on Dallas
LEBRON James scored a season-high 42 points and sparked a late run that secured the Miami Heat's 117-106 National Basketball Association victory in Dallas on Tuesday.
The NBA's four-time Most Valuable Player connected on 16-of-23 shots from the field, including 4-of-8 from three-point range, and added nine rebounds and six assists for the defending champions.
Vince Carter's free throw with 7min 47sec remaining gave the Mavericks a 95-92 lead but the Heat scored the next 14 points to seize command.
James opened the run with back-to-back three-pointers, added a basket and two free throws for 10 points in the run and Dallas came no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Miami improved to 4-1 on a road trip that ends today against NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, who ripped the Heat earlier this season at Miami.
Chris Bosh scored 22 points and Chris Andersen contributed 18 more off the bench for Miami. Dwyane Wade had 13 points and seven assists for the Heat.
German star Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 22 points and also contributed nine rebounds and seven assists for the Mavericks, who won six of their past seven games.
Miami also received a boost when James said in an interview on NBA TV that "at this point", he cannot imagine leaving the Heat after this season, when he can choose to become a free agent by exercising an option in his contract.
"We don't know what can happen from now to July, so what I've been able to do this whole season to this point is just worry about what's at hand and that's winning another championship," he said.
James can opt out of his 2010 deal after this season, after next season or become a free agent in 2016.
He left the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 2010 announcement on national television - setting off a firestorm of controversy.
In another game, the San Antonio Spurs handed the Los Angeles Clippers a rare home defeat, winning 113-103.
With injured Spurs point guard Tony Parker sitting out, Patty Mills came off the bench to score 18 of his 25 points in the second half. Mills connected on 9-of-15 shots from the floor. He also had five rebounds and five assists.
Guard Marco Belinelli added 20 points, forward Tim Duncan had 19 points and 13 rebounds.
The Spurs (39-15) snapped a three-game winning streak for the Clippers (37-19).
Forward Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 35 points and 12 rebounds, while guard Jamal Crawford finished with 25 points.