DALLAS (CBS4) – With 4 seconds left in Game 3 of the NBS Finals, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks battled for two points that could have sent the game into OT. As the clock wound down, Dirk Nowitzki tried one last two-pointer, and it bounced off the rim. One last try at the buzzer for a rebound, and the American Airlines Center went quiet. Dallas had lost only their second home game of the playoffs, and the Heat moved to 2-1 in the best of 7 series.
Chris Bosh’s jumper from the left baseline with 39.6 seconds left gave the Heat an 88-86 lead, and it stayed that way until the end as Miami took control of the NBA finals by winning Game 3 against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night.
The game could have gone either way. Nowitzki led drive after drive, and put up 34 points during the game, the majority in the second half, out-scoring Dwayne Wade who ended the game with 29.
“We found ways to grind this game out in a very competitive win,” said Heat Coach Eric Spolstra, speaking after the game.
It was polar opposite of game 2 in Miami, where the Heat lost to Dallas by 2 points as the series moved to the Mavs’ home court.
At the Miami Arena, where fans watched the game on the big screen as part of a Heat Road Party, the win had the crowd out of their seats, cheering for what some said was vindication for Thursday’s loss.
Chris Bosh was teeming with confidence.
His left eye was swollen, courtesy of an inadvertent first-quarter poke from Jason Kidd. His shooting throughout the NBA finals had been downright bad — 15 makes on 51 attempts. And he had never, ever won a game in his hometown of Dallas as a professional, winless in eight attempts.
None of that mattered.
Bosh’s jumper from the left baseline with 39.6 seconds left gave Miami an 88-86 lead, and it stayed that way until the end as the Heat won Game 3 against the Mavericks on Sunday night.
Bosh told teammate Udonis Haslem moments before the basket that if Dwyane Wade or LeBron James penetrated, he wanted someone to screen Dirk Nowitzki and get him open.
That’s close enough to what happened. And Bosh delivered.
“It went just how we thought it would,” Haslem said. “He stepped up with confidence and knocked it down. He’s a great shooter. He’s a tough, tough shooter. He knocks down shots. He has a feathery touch. I’ve got confidence every time he shoots the ball that it’s going in.”
Wade dribbled right, throwing the ball over a double team to James in the high post as Haslem slipped toward Nowitzki to give Bosh room to step back to a spot on the left baseline.
James never even turned around or dribbled, shoveling a backward pass to Bosh, who caught the ball and shot as Haslem kept Nowitzki pinned.
Bosh had been 0-8 in Dallas as an NBA player, the first seven of those losses during his annual visits with the Toronto Raptors before he joined the Heat last summer.
Never has a 1-8 record looked so good to him as it does now.
“It started with Dwyane,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He threw it to LeBron, LeBron threw it to Chris. And that’s fundamental basketball at its best. When you see an open man, you hit an open man. And like I said, we made a few of those plays down the stretch. It was good to see him knock that one down.”
Miami leads the series 2-1 with Game 4 set for Tuesday night.
Bosh’s night started in rough fashion, getting poked in the left eye by Kidd and needing treatment on the Heat bench. Plus, for the third straight game in these finals, his shooting suffered — he made only 7 of 18 shots, and is now just 16 for 52 in the series.
He’s 1 for 1 on shots that matter: game winners.
“I’m happy for him,” Haslem said. “He’s been through a tough stretch in Toronto where he put it all on his back. But as we all know, it takes more than one player to be able to get this thing done. So I’m happy we were able to help him get his first victory in here. Hopefully we can try to get him another one.”
Dallas has been a house of horrors for every player on the Heat roster. None of the 15 had a winning record in the city as an opponent. Not even close. Juwan Howard was 8-10 in road games at Dallas. Mike Bibby was 10-18. Eddie House was 5-8.
And they were the GOOD ones.
James was 2-6 in Dallas as a pro. Haslem was 1-9 and Wade was 1-6 — their previous lone win coming June 20, 2006, when the Heat clinched the title on the Mavs’ floor. Jamaal Magloire was 0-9, Mike Miller was 1-14 and Erick Dampier was 2-11 as an opponent, though it bears noting the Mavericks were 184-59 in home games where he played for Dallas.
But Bosh, winless in eight years in Dallas, was finally a hero in his hometown.