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NBA Finals: Nowitzki's Last-Second Shot Lifts Mavericks Over Heat, 95-93

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Nice try.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Nice try. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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The first quarter began like any other, with a turnover from the Mavericks followed by a made basket by Dirk Nowitzki on the next possession. The good defense from game one carried over to this one, as did the missing of free throws. Dallas started off with great pressure, forcing the Heat to take harder shots than they wanted, but six minutes into the game, Dwyane Wade found his way into the paint, and both he and LeBron James hit three pointers. All this happened, mind you, when Peja Stojakovic subbed in for Dirk. Clearly he is outmatched by this Miami team.

Dirk stayed off the floor for several minutes, and still the Mavs managed to keep the game close. When Jason Terry came in off the bench, the energy picked up slightly on offense, complete with a man-sized move inside by Tyson Chandler. Their defense continued to struggle with Peja on the floor, however, and after a thunderous putback from James on a missed three, time out was taken and Dirk came back in along with Brendan Haywood and Jose Barea. The quarter ended with the score tied from a slice and dice move from the little Puerto Rican.

The story of the second quarter was JJ Barea. Between his penetrating the lane and finding the open man, he sparked the offense out to a four-point lead before the Heat had to take a time out. There were still shots that should have been going in that just weren't, but the defense picked up ever so slightly, and the Mavs began capitalizing on Heat turnovers and misses.

With just under three minutes to go, the Mavericks built up a 51-42 lead, and James went to the bench with his third foul. DeShawn Stevenson's three-monacle was out and about, and we were even treated to a little fastbreak dunk from Shawn Marion. But as we all know, this is a game of runs, and the Heat had a little one of their own. Dwyane Wade dropped a three in to tie the game up just before the teams went into the locker rooms at the half.

Quarter number three started off with three consecutive turnovers for the Mavericks. And yet, the score difference never got much farther than five points. Keeping Dallas close was Marion, whose post moves were getting fancier with every shot. When Dirk went to the bench for a breather, he was replaced by Brian Cardinal, who we haven't yet seen this series. He couldn't be any worse than Peja, right?

The score ballooned to nine points for the Heat at one point, but a couple of savvy plays from Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki allowed Dallas to climb back in it. As the fourth quarter approached, the Mavericks were only down four. The final period began with a small lineup, and it proved to be a decent decision, at least to start. But the defense slacked off again, and guys were getting blown by under the basket for highlight reel dunks by the Heat.

And then, Tuesday's problem reared its ugly head- shots that should have been no-brainers simply would not go in. Dirk's shot got uglier and uglier, and despite out-rebounding the Heat on the offensive glass, the Mavericks could not get those second chance opportunities that they so desperately needed. With the Heat ahead by 15, it was Terry who found his way into the basket to stop the bleed with back-to-back scores. He had his own personal 6-0 run, and a nice drive to the basket from Marion capped off the 8-0 Mavericks run.

A pair of free throws stopped the Mavs stampede, but immediately after them, Jason Kidd hit a three and Terry found a mid-range jumper to bring the game to within four points with just over three minutes to play. The Mavericks decided, in the last two minutes, that it was just about time to play defense. And so they did, and so they were able to get crucial stops. A short jumpshot from Dirk tied the game with :57.6 seconds left to play.

Then, the unpossible happened. Dirk happened. After a great defensive set from the Mavericks, they brought it down and Mr. Überman hit a three point basket with :26.7 seconds left to play. But then, you guessed it, Mario Chalmers came back with a three-point basket of his very own. Tie game with only two seconds gone off the clock. The Mavericks had the ball for the last possession. Kidd took the ball inbounds and held on to it for a good 15 seconds before giving it to Dirk, who then drove to the basket and hit with three seconds left. Game, set, match.