MIAMI – The defensive effort was closer to Miami Heat standards.
LeBron James made it difficult to notice anything but offense.
James scored 33 points on 13-for-21 shooting — with an array of post-up moves getting him going early, then a barrage of 3-pointers fueling a big third-quarter push — and the Heat encountered little trouble on the way to a 118-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.
James scored 17 points in the third quarter, his best 12-minute stretch of the season so far and an indicator that a balky back that slowed him in the season’s first couple weeks is improving.
“It’s getting better,” James said. “It feels a lot better. Still a little sore . . . getting a lot of work put on it so I can get to 100 percent. But it’s getting better every day and that’s a good thing.”
Michael Beasley scored 19 points and Mario Chalmers finished with 15 points and seven assists for the Heat, whose biggest victory margin before Tuesday was a 12-point triumph over Chicago on opening night. Chris Bosh scored 10 for Miami (5-3).
Miami played without Udonis Haslem (back) and Ray Allen (ill). Shane Battier started in Haslem’s place.
“It wasn’t perfect,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team was coming off a final-second loss to Boston on Saturday. “There were still some areas we definitely need to improve on, in terms of the details and discipline. But at least the effort, the effort, the activity was better, the disposition right from the beginning and it carried through once we got into the rotation. Guys were much more focused and bringing that competitive spirit.”
John Henson and Gary Neal each scored 18 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 11 for Milwaukee — all three of them putting up those points off the Bucks’ bench. Caron Butler was the only double-digit-scoring starter for Milwaukee (2-4), finishing with 10.
“They shot almost 60 percent today so there’s no way we can win a game like that,” Henson said. “We just have to get better.”
Mavericks 105, Wizards 95
In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki had 19 points to pass Jerry West on the NBA’s career scoring list and help the Mavericks beat Washington.
Nowitzki hit consecutive 3-pointers late in the third quarter, the second one putting him at 25,194 points for 16th place, two ahead of West.
Lakers 116, Pelicans 95
In Los Angeles, Jordan Hill had a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds in his first start of the season, and Pau Gasol added 14 points and eight rebounds in the Lakers’ victory over New Orleans.
Nick Young scored 17 points for Los Angeles, which lost five of its last seven before trouncing the Pelicans, who beat them handily last week in New Orleans.
Warriors 113, Pistons 95
In Oakland, Stephen Curry had 25 points and eight assists, helping Golden State build a 19-point first-quarter lead before sitting out the final 12 minutes of the win over Detroit.
David Lee added 17 points and nine rebounds, while Klay Thompson had 14 points for the Warriors, who have won five straight over the Pistons.