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Now, this is a long way from over. Dallas picked up some momentum late in the second quarter. So don't celebrate, Heat fans. Don't fret, Mavs fans. Dallas surely has enough firepower to turn this one around after halftime.
Dallas is shooting 39 percent. Miami isn't much better, 42 percent. And the Mavs hold edges in both fast-break (12-8) and bench (13-8) scoring.
See you in the third quarter.
Offensive rebounding and turnovers are simply beating Dallas right now.
Heat lead the Mavs 43-31 with 3:25 left in the half, holding Dallas without a second-chance point so far and having turned seven turnovers into 16 points -- an unbelievably efficient rate.
We've played eight minutes of the second quarter. Dallas has only nine points in the period.
That won't get it done, not on this night.
Fouls might be a thing to watch for Miami: Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller, two bench mainstays, each have two so far. But Dwyane Wade just knocked the ball from Jason Terry and drove in for a dunk, giving him 17 points on 8 for 12 shooting.
Now, we know Dallas can come back from just about any deficit.
But this isn't what the Mavs wanted in Game 3.
So much for that notion that the way Game 2 ended would give Dallas a big boost heading into tonight. The Mavs started 5 for 7 from the field. They made 7 of their next 19 shots, and the Heat are out to a 34-26 lead with 8:47 left in the second quarter.
The Mavs have been outscored by eight with Jason Terry on the floor and are not having much luck breaking down Miami's defensive rotations. Very little has been open for Dallas since the early going.
Backup big man Ian Mahinmi is getting minutes for Dallas with Brendan Haywood out with right hip problems. Mahinmi has three fouls. He hasn't even played six minutes.
We're through one quarter of Game 3: Miami leads 29-22.
LeBron James announced his presence with a dunk late in the quarter, followed by a drive where he split two defenders and drew a foul -- rare for him in this series -- with 8.1 seconds left. James had shot only six free throws in the first two games of the finals.
And Mario Chalmers capped the quarter with a 3-pointer after a Dallas turnover. Want to know what the American Airlines Center sounded like in that moment? Take a balloon, inflate it, then let the air out. Sort of like that.
Dallas is doing what Dallas is prone to do, play a lot of people early, get everyone involved in the flow of the game. Remember, the Mavs were dealing with nerves too, and controlling them was the bulk of what Rick Carlisle and Tyson Chandler were talking about pregame.
Mavs had four turnovers in the first, Heat only one. Never a good trend for Dallas.
Dwyane Wade is picking up where he left off in the 2006 finals.
Wade has eight quick points as the Heat lead the Mavericks 22-19 with 2:25 left in Game 3 of the title series. Of course, he was the MVP when Miami won its lone title in Dallas in 2006.
Dallas is starting to overplay Wade late in possessions, trying desperately to keep the ball out of his hands. And it's a safe bet Jason Kidd won't be guarding Wade all night, either.
And a Chris Bosh update: He's fine. Got his eye rinsed after getting poked by Kidd.
For Dallas, Kidd has five points and Shawn Marion four. The building, while still loud, isn't anything like it was a few minutes ago. So Miami seems to have weathered the early Dallas storm.
Big problem for the Heat early: Chris Bosh is hurt.
Bosh got hit in the face and spent about a minute on the court, only getting up after play was stopped with 7:26 left in the first quarter.
DeShawn Stevenson hit a 3-pointer with the Mavs taking advantage of a 5-on-4 break, with Bosh still prone on the court. Stevenson's hit gave Dallas a quick 14-9 lead.
Dallas is getting everything it wants in the early going.
And that vow from LeBron James to be more aggressive early tonight? He hasn't taken a shot in the first 4:34 of the game.
Bosh looks OK, but we'll keep an eye on things.
Welcome to Game 7 of the NBA finals.
Wait. It's only Game 3?
Sure seems like more than the 2-1 lead in the series is at stake tonight, when the Miami Heat visit the Dallas Mavericks because of the apparent rule that one team cannot be in the NBA finals without the other. There's about a half-dozen different stats kicking around, saying that there's no way the loser of this game will rally to win the title.
Not surprisingly, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is not looking at tonight's game in those terms.
"To simplify it for all of you, the game is not played in a statistical world," Spoelstra was saying about 90 minutes before tipoff. "It is played between those four lines and 94 feet. Whoever plays the best and more consistent to their identity likely has the best chance to win."
And that'll hold true in Game 4, Game 5, and maybe Game 6 and Game 7 as well.
The Heat say they want to get to the foul line more tonight, especially LeBron James, who has taken only six free throws in the first two games of these finals. He calls that unacceptable.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle knows what's coming.
"From everything that we're hearing, Miami is going to be in a very strong attack mode, looking to get to the free-throw line more," Carlisle said. "And so, look, we're going to have to be down in the stance containing them and attacking at both ends ourselves. They're not a team you beat by playing any kind of a passive game. We'll have to be ready, and I'm sure they will be, too."
One hit already for Dallas: Brendan Haywood is out tonight.
So here we go. Tipoff is shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern. And there's about 20,000 fans wearing blue shirts filling in, except for one woman who was shown on the video screen a little while ago refusing to put hers on.
"Go, Heat," she shouted.
They booed her. Those 2006 finals, nah, they haven't been forgotten in Big D quite yet.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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