Whatever switch it was that got the Dallas Mavericks clicking in the waning minutes of their Game Two showdown with the Miami Heat, Dirk Nowitzki flipped it. The Mavericks star forward scored nine points in the fourth quarter to help erase a 15-point deficit and banked the deciding layup to give Dallas a 95-93 win and even the NBA Finals 1-1 on June 2. With Miami seemingly doing whatever they wanted through most of the game, the Heat suddenly went blank, scoring just five points over the final six minutes of the game.

“Definitely a huge comeback for us and we never gave up, and that was big,” Nowitzki said after the game. “We’re a veteran team and we don’t get too high with the highs and too low with the lows.”

Playing with an injured finger on his non-shooting hand, Nowitzki sparked a 22-5 run, scoring the Mavericks’ last nine points. His three pointer with 26 seconds left gave Dallas a 93-90 lead before Miami point guard Mario Chalmers sank his own three pointer to tie it after a Heat timeout. After a Dallas timeout, Nowitzki received the ball at the top of the key with 24 seconds left before spinning off Heat forward Chris Bosh and scooping a layup off the glass to hush a noisy AmericanAirlines Arena.

With 7:13 left in the fourth quarter, the game appeared to be in Miami’s pocket after Dwyane Wade’s three pointer made it 88-73, but a string of missed jumpshots helped bring Mavs right back into it. “That’s about as tough a fourth quarter as you can have,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. “When it started to slide, it just kept on going.”

The Heat went 1-for-10 down the stretch, including 1-for-7 from three point range. Without even attempting to run a semblance of an offense at times, Miami would let the shot clock milk down to a few seconds before hoisting a long three pointer or a difficult jumpshot.

Nowitzki led Dallas with 24 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Wade led Miami with 36 points, six assists, thee steals and two blocks. Game Three is in Dallas on June 5 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO