Mavericks’ 95-93 comeback victory is simply stunning
Reporting from Miami
It’s morning in America.
About to topple into an 0-2 crater, the Dallas Mavericks, the Miami Heat’s latest opponent and America’s Latest Team, came from 15 points down in the last 6:18 to beat Miami, 95-93, Thursday night, tying the NBA Finals at a game apiece.
Dirk Nowitzki, who missed 11 of his first 17 shots, playing with a splint on the middle finger of his left hand, made four of his last five, including the spinning layup with three seconds left — left-handed — that won it.
Remember when the Heat, down 0-2 and about to make it 0-3 against Dallas, came back to win the 2006 Finals?
It just happened in reverse.
The Mavericks finished on a 22-5 run after Dwyane Wade’s three-point shot put Miami up, 88-73, and he and LeBron James’ celebration hurt the visitors’ feelings.
“Seeing them celebrate like that was really disheartening for us,” Jason Terry said.
"[I] looked at Dirk and said, ‘There’s no way we’re going out like this with them dunking on us, making threes on us.’”
Numb as the Heat was afterward, after a season as the most intensely scrutinized/hated team in NBA history, its people know better than to admit to human emotions.
In March when Coach Erik Spoelstra noted there were “a couple of guys crying” after a loss to the Bulls, it took rest of the league a week to stop laughing
So this game?
“It was highly uncharacteristic on both ends of the court, but we’re a resilient group,” said Spoelstra, determined to find a positive.
“By the time we get on that plane, we’ll get our minds and spirits and bodies ready for Game 3.”
What he means is, we know the sun will come up in the morning, but right now it doesn’t feel like it.
Oh, and as far as blowing that lead … ARGHHHHHH!
Making it as poetic as shocking, this is where Big D’s hoop dreams had come to die, with one more looking about to croak.
About to go up 3-0 in the 2006 Finals, the Mavericks blew a 13-point lead in the last 6:34 and lost Game 3 here.
Tightening up alarmingly and visibly after the Heat’s Game 4 rout, the Mavericks changed hotels before Game 5.
Not that it stopped them from losing leads in the last 10 seconds of regulation, and overtime, with Wade winning it with two free throws at the end.
Owner Mark Cuban then stomped onto the floor, railed at the referees and glared at Commissioner David Stern, who fined him $250,000.
With the Mavericks tight as violin string, the Heat romped in Game 6 in Dallas and that was that ...
Until midway through Thursday’s fourth quarter.
As Wade noted afterward, their celebration didn’t lose this game.
Letting the Mavericks score two easy hoops to start erasing that 15-point lead wasn’t good, though.
Unfortunately, the Heat ran out of timeouts, obliging it to go the length of the court after Nowitzki’s basket, getting only a long heave by Wade at the end.
Miami had a foul to give before Nowitzki’s game-winner but didn’t give it.
Oh, and the Heat didn’t double-team Dirk, either.
“At that time, they had carved us up enough on that,” Spoelstra said. “We tried to do it with our normal defense.”
Win some, lose some, make history in a few, one way or the other.
“I’ve been saying it for a long time,” said Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle, asked if Nowitzki’s performance was Larry Bird-ian.
“No one wants to believe it. There’s a guy with four fingers.”
Aside from both being tall sharpshooters, I don’t see much resemblance between Nowitzki, a great player, and Bird, an all-time great.
Thursday Dirk was Nowitzkian, which was just fine.
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