Mavericks erase double-digit road deficit - again
Down by 15. Only 7:14 left. On the road. Headed toward an 0-2 deficit in the NBA finals against a Miami Heat team ready to be crowned NBA champions since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade last summer.
It's pretty remarkable that the Mavericks overcame it all to win the game and even the series.
It's also pretty typical of what they've done this postseason.
''If you're going to win a championship, you've got to have the wherewithal to hang in when things are tough,'' Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. ''You have to keep believing. All year our guys have believed. And tonight was another good example.''
Annoyed by Wade celebrating a 3-pointer in front of the Dallas bench, Jason Terry scored six straight points to get the Mavericks going.
They wound up outscoring the Heat 22-5 down the stretch, with Dirk Nowitzki scoring their final nine points. The winner came on a layup using his injured left hand, giving Dallas a 95-93 victory that will grow in lore should the Mavs wind up winning their first NBA title.
''You have to be a little lucky, but we kept on plugging,'' Nowitzki said. ''We kept believing, kept playing off each other.''
Dallas pulled off the biggest comeback win in an NBA finals since Michael Jordan and the Bulls wiped out a similar 15-point deficit in Game 6 of the 1992 series, beating Portland to close out their second title.
For the Mavericks, this was their biggest comeback win in ... 10 days.
That was the night the Mavs wiped out a 15-point deficit with 5:06 left to beat the Thunder in Oklahoma City in Game 4 of the conference finals.
Three weeks before that, they'd erased a 16-point, third-quarter deficit to beat the Lakers in Los Angeles. A few days before that, they bounced back from a 12-point deficit to beat the Trail Blazers in Portland to close out their first-round series.
So during a timeout following Wade's 3, the Mavs sloughed off the first 7 1/2 quarters they'd played in the NBA finals and thought back to how they got this far. Carlisle specifically brought up Oklahoma City, pointing out that there were an extra 2 minutes to polish off this comeback.
''We continued to keep faith in ourselves, grinded it out and got it done,'' Terry said.
Without the spectacular finish, the story for Dallas would've been squandering a nine-point lead with 3:22 left in the first half and James on the bench with three fouls.
The Mavs repeatedly sent the Heat to the foul line, wound up tied at halftime, then provided turnover after turnover to fuel a Miami rally early in the third quarter. Dallas hung tough for a while, then found itself trailing 88-73 when Wade made the 3 in front of the Dallas bench.
Fans anticipated something big happening on that play because they already were on their feet before Wade even got the ball. As they erupted in cheers, he stayed in the corner holding his hand in a follow-through pose a little longer than the Mavericks thought he should have.
Some guys didn't see it - or said they didn't. Those that did made it clear that the play sparked them.
''We were definitely frustrated,'' center Tyson Chandler said. ''When you've got a guy celebrating in front of your bench, when you're down 15 with 7 minutes to go, you're like, 'The game isn't over.' That's all we said on the bench. 'Listen, I don't care what they think, the game isn't over.'''
Terry went scoreless in the second half of the opener, and was a miserable 4 of 16 for the series. Being covered by James was part of his problem. Terry also was fighting a wrist injury sustained when James fouled him on a dunk attempt early in Game 1.
Down the stretch, Terry made an adjustment suggested by Jason Kidd that helped free him for some open space. He started the winning rally with a jumper, a layup and a pair of free throws, all coming in less than a minute. He made another jumper with 3:11 left to put Dallas within 90-86.
Terry finished with 16 points, five assists, two steals and a huge smile. It was especially sweet for him to stick it to the Heat, their fans and Wade because he and Nowitzki are the only players left from the 2006 Mavs who blew the finals by losing three straight games in Miami - a meltdown that began with Dallas blowing a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 3.
There's no telling what this result might do.
''Each finals, there's going to be a turning point, a moment, so to speak,'' Terry said. ''And tonight the moment was ours.''