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This series is now more fascinating than ever. It just went from two games decided by two points, the first time that happened in the finals since 1998, to being settled by three points.
Coming into this game, the Heat felt they should have been up 3-0. The Mavs felt they should have been up 2-1. This game was all about figuring out whether Miami was going to runaway with the championship, as many have expected since "The Decision" last summer, or if the plucky veterans from Dallas really had what it took to be champs for the first time.
Now it's 2-2. Both teams are 1-1 at home, and all those stats about who wins under various circumstances seem pretty moot.
The folks in the NBA office and at ABC are loving it the most. Ratings already have been setting records and they're sure to be up again, with interest for Game 5 higher than ever.
"This series is a jump ball," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "These guys live for these type of moments. It's about execution and disposition in the fourth quarter, being able to close out. We have a golden opportunity in the next game."
Miami seemed to have taken control when it went ahead 74-65, its biggest lead of the night. Then Dallas went to a zone and the Heat struggled.
They scored a series-low 14 points in the fourth quarter, committing six turnovers and making only 5 of 15 shots. They actually made their first two, so they missed 10 of their final 13.
Jason Terry -- who kick-started Dallas' Game 2 comeback with six straight points, but was 0 for 7 in the fourth quarter of the other two games -- got the Mavs going with consecutive baskets. He capped the winning rally with two free throws with 6.7 seconds left that forced Miami to need a 3-pointer to force overtime.
"These are two teams trying to figure out a way to make plays down the stretch," James said. "We've seen in this series a seven- or eight-point lead is nothing. You just got to continue to execute offensively, continue to grind defensively, and put yourself in the best possible chance to win late."
Carlisle shook up Dallas' lineup, starting J.J. Barea instead of DeShawn Stevenson, and made Brian Cardinal the primary backup for Nowitzki, instead of Peja Stojakovic. Like his late move to the zone, these changes worked out quite nicely. He also made an adjustment after Miami grabbed nine offensive rebounds in the first quarter; the Heat got just six more.
Stevenson scored 11 points, his first time in double digits since Feb. 2. Cardinal drew a charge on James early and provided seven solid minutes, giving Nowitzki much-needed rest.
Terry scored 17, Shawn Marion 16 and Chandler had 13 points and 16 rebounds.
Backup center Brendan Haywood returned to the lineup after missing Game 3 with a hip injury, but lasted only 3:05. Chandler could tell he was hurting and jumped off the bench to go back in.
"I told Coach, 'You have to get me back out there, I will play 48 (minutes) if I need to,'" Chandler said.
NOTES: Bosh scored 24 points. Other than Miami's three superstars, none of the Heat scored more than six. ... Of the last 26 times the finals have been tied at 2, the Game 5 winner has won it all 19 times. Last year was among the exceptions, with the Celtics winning Game 5 and the Lakers taking the last two. ... The 2006 finals between these teams also was tied 2-2, but Miami overcame an 0-2 deficit to win four straight. ... This was Wade's fifth 30-point game of the playoffs.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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