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Mavericks rally from 15-point deficit to defeat Heat, tie series

Reporting from Miami

This time the comeback was on the other foot.

The Miami Heat, so adept at fourth-quarter comebacks and closing out games throughout the playoffs, let a 15-point lead slip away Thursday and the Dallas Mavericks evened the NBA Finals with a 95-93 victory in Game 2.

Dirk Nowitzki’s driving layup with 3.6 seconds remaining capped a stunning comeback similar to the one the Mavericks pulled off against Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals as well as the turnaround Miami used to eliminate Chicago and earn a berth to the Finals.

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Nowitzki, who struggled most of the night for the second game in a row, made the big shots at the end that sank Miami. His layup off a Heat turnover tied it at 90 with 57.6 seconds remaining. Nowitzki’s three-point shot with 26.7 seconds left gave the Mavericks their first lead of the second half at 93-90.

Nowitzki, who finished with 24 points, came through with the winner after Mario Chalmers tied it on a three-pointer from the corner with 24.5 seconds left. Shawn Marion had 20 points for the Mavericks.

A three-pointer from the corner by Dwyane Wade gave the Heat an 88-73 lead with 7:14 to play. But it all fell apart for Miami in the last five minutes.

“If you’re getting stops and scores, you can make up ground in a hurry,” Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle said. “I thought we missed a lot of good shots again, that we were due to get on a roll if we could get some stops. And we were able to do that.”

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A flurry of misses by the Heat in the final minutes helped, including a couple of three-pointers by LeBron James with the shot clock winding down.

The loss was the first at home for the Heat in the playoffs after starting 9-0.

“It was highly uncharacteristic for us at both ends of the court,” Heat Coach Eric Spoelstra said. “You’ve got to give them credit. We will bounce back. By the time we get on that plane tomorrow we’ll get our minds and bodies and spirit ready for Game 3. This is a long series, so we’re not happy about what happened but we’ve got an opportunity in Game 3.”

Wade led the Heat with 36 points in a performance reminiscent of 2006, when Miami won its first NBA title against the Mavericks.

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James added 20 points and eight rebounds, and point guard Mike Bibby, scoreless in the opener, contributed 14 points, including four three-pointers.

After Nowitzki’s layup, the Heat had no timeouts, forcing Wade to take a shot from just inside midcourt as time expired.

“Look, Dirk knows for us to win this series, he’s going to have to play all-around basketball. He’s going to have to fight through periods where the ball isn’t necessarily going in the basket, which he did tonight,” Carlisle said. “Hey, we had a lot of guys who stepped up. This was a great win for us.”

cdavis@tribune.com


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