Dwyane Wade had 29 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Heat, who lost Game 2 after blowing a 15-point lead in Miami.
The Heat withstood another Mavericks’ rally last night at American Airlines Center in Dallas, where Dirk Nowitzki scored 12 straight points before throwing a pass out of bounds with 30 seconds left and missing a two-point shot at the buzzer.
“We felt this was a must-win, by any means necessary,” Wade said during a news conference. “It was a big win for us and we did a good job withstanding all their runs.”
Since the best-of-seven NBA Finals went to its current format in 1985, the Game 3 winner in series that were tied 1-1 went on to capture the championship on all 11 occasions.
“The tough part now is amnesia -- both teams are highly competitive,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We have to gather ourselves and get right back and do this again.
The Mavericks, after losing at home for the second time in nine postseason games, will host Game 4 tomorrow. Game 5 of the NBA Finals is in Dallas on June 9.
The Heat led 81-74 last night with 6:31 remaining before Nowitzki scored 12 consecutive points for the Mavericks to tie the score 86-86.
After Jason Terry missed a shot that could have put Dallas ahead, Bosh took a pass from James and hit a 16-foot jumper with 39 seconds left to put Miami back in front 86-84.
“It’s just the trust we have in our abilities, no matter what point the game is at,” James said in a news conference.
While Nowitzki turned the ball over with 30 seconds remaining -- throwing a pass out of bounds as he was guarded by two defenders -- the Mavericks got the ball back with four seconds left. Nowitzki, who led Dallas with 34 points, took the inbounds pass and missed his final shot from just beyond the free throw line as time expired.
“The fact that we were digging out of holes all night was something that was difficult to overcome,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
The Heat, who got 12 points from Mario Chalmers off the bench on four 3-pointers, improved to 4-0 following a loss this postseason. Miami is now two wins from its second title in six years, having beaten Nowitzki and the Mavericks in six games in the 2006 NBA Finals.
“I’ve moved on from this win already,” Wade said. “The next game is a big game. We have to bring our hard hats, understanding it’s going to be harder to win that one.”
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