MIAMI - Dwyane Wade's night began with a hug for his mom. It ended with an embrace from LeBron James.
And the Miami Heat have struck first in the NBA Finals.
James scored 24 points for his first win in five Finals-game appearances, Wade added 22 points and 10 rebounds, and the Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks, 92-84, in Game 1 of the title series on Tuesday night.
"I just was aggressive," Wade said. "We understand that this is the kind of game we wanted to play. We had them where we wanted them in the sense of points. You know they [weren't] scoring a lot on us and offensively we just executed and guys made plays."
The Heat trailed by eight points early in the third quarter before pulling away, remaining unbeaten at home in these playoffs and snapping Dallas' five-game road winning streak.
Chris Bosh scored 19 points - holding up three fingers when it was over, a clear nod to the three wins Miami needs for a title - and Mario Chalmers added 12 for the Heat, who host Game 2 on Thursday night.
Wade's three-pointer with 3 minutes, 6 seconds left put the Heat up by 82-73, then the largest lead of the game for either team. The Mavs shaved two points off it on the next possession when Dirk Nowitzki hit two free throws, but James gave the Heat their first double-digit lead of the finals a few seconds later.
He dribbled upcourt against Shawn Marion, crossed his dribble over, and got clear for a dunk while being fouled. The free throw made it 85-75, and most in the sellout, white-clad crowd began standing in anticipation.
Even then, it wasn't over. Nowitzki made two more free throws - he was 12 for 12 from the line for the game - with 1:36 left, cutting the Miami lead to six.
A momentary blip.
Wade grabbed a key defensive rebound, dribbled away from three Dallas pursuers, and found Bosh for a dunk with 1:08 left that restored the 10-point lead. Another dunk by James came with 38.6 seconds left, sealing it.
Game over, and the Heat fans knew it, breaking into their now-traditional tossing of their white seat covers.
Mario Chalmers scored 12 for Miami, which outrebounded Dallas, 46-36.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Dallas, which got 16 from Marion and 12 from Jason Terry. It was Dallas' fifth straight loss to Miami in Finals games, dating to the Heat rally for the 2006 crown.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Phil Jackson is retired, the triangle offense is out, and Mike Brown is in. And the Los Angeles Lakers are still Kobe Bryant's team.
Brown made it clear Tuesday during his introduction as Jackson's successor that Bryant's role won't change under his regime. He said his first meeting with the superstar who owns five NBA championships "went very well."
"This is still his team. We'll make sure that he'll have the ball in the sweet spots that he likes," Brown said. "He has a great understanding of my vision and he's on board."
MIAMI - David Stern said it will be "a challenge" to reach a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement before the current one expires June 30.
The NBA commissioner said the league is trying, though, scheduling a negotiating session with representatives from the NBA players' association on Wednesday to proceed the two meetings that were already set up for next week.
Speaking before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Stern said a deal to prevent a work stoppage will depend on whether both sides "will be bold enough to do what has to be done here."