Mavericks defeat Heat in Game 5 to take 3-2 series lead
Story lines shift fast in the intensely and closely contested NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.
From the pregame focus on LeBron James’ struggles to match his star power, Game 5 careened to the Heat trying to compensate for a bruised hip suffered by Dwyane Wade.
Ultimately, it was all about the scrappy and hot-shooting Mavericks seizing control with a 112-103 victory Thursday and a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Miami had no answer for an inspired opponent that collectively caught fire and shot 57%. The Mavericks made 13 of 19 three-point shots with six players contributing.
Jason Terry sealed the outcome with a three-pointer with 33.3 seconds remaining that gave Dallas a 108-101 lead.
“They made shots. They’re a shot-making team. We knew that,” Heat Coach Eric Spoelstra said. “If you’re getting good shots in the course of the game, you can make tough shots down the stretch.”
Dirk Nowitzki, who has elevated his status while leading his team to three comeback victories in quest of his first championship, turned in another stellar performance with 29 points.
While there was concern about lack of support for Dallas’ 7-foot star earlier in the series, Nowitzki got plenty of help in Game 5. The Mavericks got 17 points from guard J.J. Barea in his best effort of the Finals, including four three-pointers. Terry scored 21 and Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd scored 13 apiece.
“I thought we hit some big-time shots tonight,” Nowitzki said.
Wade’s status for Game 6 is uncertain pending tests on his injured hip. He went to the locker room with about three minutes remaining the first quarter following a collision with Mavericks reserve Brian Cardinal. He returned early in the second quarter and was effective but clearly in pain.
Wade remained in the locker room after halftime while Mike Miller replaced him in the lineup. Miller quickly hit consecutive three-pointers. Wade returned with 41/2 minutes left in the third quarter. He finished with 23 points in a gritty effort.
“I don’t talk about injuries,” Wade said. “It’s unfortunate that I had to leave the game, but I came back and I finished it. ? Once you’re on the court, you’re on the court. I don’t have no excuses. I was on the court. I was able to help my team get an opportunity to win and I’ll be fine Sunday.”
James turned in a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. But he committed a charge and missed an open three-pointer in the final two minutes. Kidd responded with a three-pointer that gave Dallas a 105-100 lead with 1:26 remaining.
Coming off an eight-point effort in the poorest playoff performance of his career, James said he faced “the biggest game of his life” and proclaimed “it’s that time to get myself going.”
The criticism won’t go away after James failed to deliver in the fourth quarter and the Heat suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in the playoffs.
“LeBron was much more aggressive tonight. He had an impact on the game,” Spoelstra said.
The Heat did get key contributions from the bench, led by Mario Chalmers, who had four three-pointers and 15 points. But Miami struggled to keep pace all night while Dallas played with confidence at both ends.
Barea and Terry provided the spark in the third quarter as the Mavericks took a five-point lead into the final 12 minutes. The Heat rallied to take its first lead of the second half with 5:16 remaining and led by four after Wade hit a three-pointer.
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