Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dirk Nowitzki Leads Dallas Mavericks Strong Comeback vs Miami Heat

(MIAMI, Reuters) - Dirk Nowitzki sparked Dallas Mavericks to a stunning fourth-quarter comeback as the team fought back from 15 points down to beat the Miami Heat 95-93 on Thursday and even the NBA Finals at one game apiece.

Dallas Mavericks All-Star forward Nowitzki, who scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, hit a driving lay-up with three seconds left to provide the winning margin.

Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade launched a 28-foot, three-point attempt at the buzzer but it hit the back of the rim, eliciting a collective groan from the 20,000 at American Airlines Arena.

"Defensively we really got up, into them, started to pressure the full court, and then we scrambled defensively," said Nowitzki.

"We even gave up some second, offensive rebounds but we kept scrambling offensively. When we get some stops and we can move and we can play off the flow."

The best-of-seven series shifts to Dallas for the next three games, with Game Three set for Sunday at the American Airlines Center.

Miami Heat looked to have seized control of the game with a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter that padded their two-point advantage into a 88-73 lead with just over seven minutes left.

Wade, who scored 36 points on a variety of long jump shots, running one-handers and fast breaks, scored nine points during the run, triggering a party atmosphere in South Florida.

But the resilient Dallas Mavericks embarked on a 20-2 run of their own and Nowitzki's 25-foot three-pointer with 26 seconds left gave the Mavericks a 93-90 lead.

Miami Heat reserve guard Mario Chalmers responded with a three-pointer just two seconds later, setting the stage for Nowitzki's heroics.

"Hang out. Hang around. Keep believing," said Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. "This team has been through some difficult situations. We've been down big a couple of times in the playoffs.

"We have shown that we have the ability to come back and the guys believe that if we get stops, we'll always give ourselves a chance. It wasn't gonna happen unless we got stops."

Nowitzki, who injured a tendon in the middle finger of his left hand in the first game of the series, struggled early and hit three of his first 10 shots.

But he recovered in the second half, making 10 of 22 shots for the game.

"All year our guys have believed," said Carlisle. "And tonight was another good example. They had to win the game. It wasn't easy."

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