DALLAS (AP) – Dirk Nowitzki scored six points in the final 2:05 of the second quarter, sending the Dallas Mavericks into halftime of Game 5 of the NBA finals with a 60-57 lead over the Miami Heat on Thursday night.
Nowitzki showed he’s shaken most of the effects of a sinus infection, save for a few sniffles, by scoring 16 points at the break. Tyson Chandler had 11 as the Mavericks scored the most points of any team against the Heat in any half this postseason.
LeBron James had nine points for Miami, one more than he had in an a surprisingly passive performance in Game 4. Although he wasn’t shooting at will, he took a team-high 10 shots, making four.
Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers led the Heat with 13 points and Chris Bosh had 11.
Wade did not start the second half because of an injured left hip. Mike Miller started in his place and Wade reported into the game with 4:33 to go in the third quarter.
Wade was hurt during the first quarter and went to the locker room for treatment. He returned to play nearly nine minutes in the second quarter, but apparently got worse during the extended halftime of a finals – 16 minutes, instead of the usual 14.
Chalmers’ point total was a good sign for Miami; the Heat won both times he cracked double digits this series.
This was easily the highest-scoring first half of a series that’s been memorable for its tight finishes – three straight games decided by three points or less, the first time that’s happened since 1948.
The teams came into this game tied at 2. Of the previous 26 times that’s happened, the Game 5 winner has been crowned the champion 19 times. That includes the 2006 finals between these teams, when Miami won Game 5 in overtime, then closed out the series in Game 6.
At a morning shootaround, Nowitzki said this game carried the weight of a Game 7 because “you don’t want to give them two chances to close it out at home.”
Game 6 is in Miami on Sunday night. If the series doesn’t end then, it will be decided Tuesday night on the Heat’s home court.
Dallas has been playing from behind most of the series, but led nearly the entire first quarter. The exceptions were 2-0 and when it ended, as Chalmers made a halfcourt buzzer-beater for a 31-30 lead.
The Heat went up by six points in the second quarter, but the Mavericks tied it at 52 on a dunk by Chandler just after fans broke into chants of “Beat the Heat.” It was the first time they’d screamed that all series.
Although the scoresheet showed James took the most shots, he turned away plenty more. He came out seemingly intent on not doing too much too soon. Once he finally drove to the rim, he put up a long, left-handed floater that hit the outside of the net.
James also had four assists, six rebounds and a blocked shot.
The Heat made 51.3 percent of their shots, while the Mavs made a whopping 65.7 percent. Dallas was 5 of 7 on 3-pointers, with five guys each hitting one and Nowitzki wasn’t among them.
This was Dallas’ 52nd and final home game, and the fans seemed intent on making the most of it.
They went wild during the pregame theatrics, grabbing at the light-up thundersticks raining from the rafters, waving homemade signs such as “No-Quit-zki” and holding up flags from Germany and Puerto Rico in honor of Nowitzki and J.J. Barea. Almost everyone wore royal blue giveaway T-shirts, although franchise founder Donald Carter wore his own creation – a blue button-down with an original team logo pulled from an old T-shirt glued to the back.
“This night is your chance to show your Mavericks how much you appreciate them,” the public-address announcer said. “Make noise all night long!”
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