Terry’s emotion, points fuel stunning Dallas rally
Friday, June 3, 2011
MIAMI (AP) — Jason Terry didn’t like Dwyane Wade strutting his stuff in front of the Dallas Mavericks bench, and followed him for a few steps toward half-court letting him know it.
So what if the Miami Heat were up by 15 points with 7:14 left and had plenty to celebrate? Terry and the Mavericks weren’t about to go down 2-0 that easily.
Terry fired back with the first six points in a 22-5 run that ended with the Mavericks pulling off one of the most stunning rallies in NBA finals history, beating the Heat 95-93 on Thursday night and drawing even in the series.
With the game and the finals slipping away, Dallas used the celebration by Wade — and LeBron James — to spark the latest and greatest of its rallies this postseason.
The Mavs already had wiped out a 15-point deficit with 5:06 left in Game 4 of the conference finals in Oklahoma City, a 16-point deficit in Game 2 of the previous round in Los Angeles, and a 12-point deficit in the finale of the opening round in Portland. So they knew they could do it, especially on the road.
“We looked at each guy in the huddle, to a man, specifically Dirk and said, ‘There’s no way we’re going out like that,”’ Terry said. “We continued to keep faith in ourselves, grinded it out and got it done.”
Dirk Nowitzki finished it off by scoring the final nine points, the game-winner coming on a layup using his injured left hand. It was a fitting was to cap a finish that will always be remembered by Mavs fans, and perhaps all NBA fans if Dallas winds up winning the title.
“You have to be a little lucky, but we kept on plugging,” Nowitzki said. “We kept believing, kept playing off each other.”
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 a 3-pointer from the corner in front of the Dallas bench.
On that play, fans anticipated a big basket and were already on their feet before he 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,” Mavs 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.”’
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle helped turn anger into focus by reminding them of their comeback against the Thunder.
“He said, ‘Look at the clock, fellas, there’s 7 minutes left, so we’ve got some extra minutes to work our way back,”’ Chandler said.
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 up 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.
Their loss in the opener made it five straight playoff losses on this court. Another would have made Miami 10-0 at home this postseason, tying a record set by Michael Jordan’s Bulls in 1996.
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.”
Terry almost had the kind of moment he’d never forget for all the wrong reasons.
After Nowitzki hit a go-ahead 3-pointer, the Heat lined up for an inbounds pass and Terry lost his man, Mario Chalmers. James threw him a long pass and he hit a 3 to tie it with 24.5 seconds left.
Nowitzki screamed at Terry in the ensuing huddle, saying things he wouldn’t repeat even in the glow of victory. But he also told his buddy, “I’ve got your back.”
“And he did,” Terry said. “He made the (winning) bucket. ... We don’t want to get into these situations, but if they do present themselves, we’re a veteran team. If there’s time on that clock, there’s still time for us.”
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