Anyone who doubted the Dallas Mavericks’ abilities to play rock-’em sock-’em defense for 48-minutes mayReggie want to take a look at what they did to the Miami Heat on Friday night at American Airlines Center.

Looking like the polished team that advanced to last season’s Western Conference Finals, the Mavs popped the Heat in the mouth and held them to just 7-of-29 shooting outside the paint en route to a runaway 115-90 victory before a sellout crowd of 20,326.

It was a much-needed win for the Mavs, who snapped their three-game losing streak and padded their overall record to 25-22 entering Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. home game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Mavs came into Friday’s game having allowed at least 130 points in three consecutive games. Those were numbers they weren’t proud of, so they went out and put on a heck of a defensive performance, holding the Heat to the fewest points the Mavs have allowed in a game this season.

“I thought they played for 48 minutes,” coach Jason Kidd said of his stout defense. “I thought even the group that was in at the end played with energy and effort.

“I think there was clarity of what we’ve asked them to do in this game plan and they responded. It wasn’t me calling them out or saying we had a walk-through or shootaround during the game against Atlanta (this past Wednesday). You could see they were flying around. Now we’ve got to hold them to that standard.”

LukaIt was smash-mouth basketball at its finest for the Mavs, who led 31-19 after the first quarter, 60-51 at halftime and 92-67 after three quarters in setting a defensive disposition that melted the Heat.

“It was just a team effort,” said Reggie Bullock, who finished with 15 points on 5-of-6 three-pointers. “Obviously, (the lineup) was a lot smaller tonight.

“People were flying around giving multiple efforts, trying to take away threes from them. But it was just the effort that guys put in, the five that coach put out there.”

The Mavs played without their second-leading scorer, Christian Wood, who has a fractured left thumb. But they were hell-bent on not letting that slow them down offensively.

Luka Doncic led the scoring parade for the Mavs with 34 points to go with 12 rebounds and seven assists. Spencer Dinwiddie chipped in 19 points, Josh Green had 12 and five boards, and Dorian Finney-Smith collected 10 points.

With a suffocating defense as their calling card, the Mavs took the wind out of the Heat’s sails and had no problems stuffing this one in the winner’s bracket.

“Like we said before the game, they’re going to be really physical,” Doncic said. “But I think we set the tone, playing physical and playingSopencer defense, and that’s why our start was great.”

In reminding the Heat of the Mavs’ defensive pedigree, the Mavs simply had their way for the majority of the game. The Mavs led by as much as 30 points as they got back to what they did best last season – playing solid defense while knocking down 18-of-48 three-pointers.

“We know what we have to do when we go into practice,” Bullock said. “We look at film, we see the things that they put two on, our spots that we need to be at on the defensive end.

“We just have to give multiple effort and stick to the game plan. Go out there and just try to perform and do it.”

Even the Mavs’ small lineup – with 6-8 Finney-Smith at center – performed very well.

“That group has played with each other,” Kidd said. “They understand what they have to do. There’s no indecisiveness. They play, they talk.

“Deflections were probably the highest tonight. Just running guys off of threes. Just the extra effort was there. It kind of reminded us of last year at the end of the season when we were playing with that effort.”

Before the game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was reminded that his team plays Doncic as tough as any team in the NBA. But when asked how he’s held Doncic to just 20.8 points per game for his career, Spoelstra tried to avoid the question.

Luka“You know I don’t want to hear that — I really don’t,” he said. “I think we’ve played him less. The sample size is smaller.

“He’s the most blitzed player in the last three years. What we’ve done is no different than what everybody else is trying to do.”

Doncic was 12-of-24 from the field, including 5-of-8 from beyond the three-point arc. In other words, it was a typical game for the NBA’s leading scorer.

“You have to wrap your mind around doing extremely tough things in this league if you’re going to be a great defensive team,” Spoelstra said. “You’re going to get challenged in so many different ways.

“There’s not a coverage in this league that you can devise that’s going to stop (Doncic). There’s just not.”

Doncic wound up scoring 19 points in the first half. And near the end of the third quarter, Doncic fired in a three-pointer, then fed Dwight Powell for a basket in the painLukat as the Mavs led, 92-67, after three quarters.

Now, the challenge for the Mavs is to display a similar defensive output on Sunday against the Clippers. On what’s preventing a similar knock-down, drag-out defensive showing the rest of the season, Kidd said:

“Sometimes they can be tired or upset. I don’t know. I think it’s just the journey that all teams go through of trying to find identity, trying to find continuity, trust.

“Sometimes you don’t have to lose, but you do lose and you find out the character of the group in that locker room. I thought they responded.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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