Nowitzki Ignores Fever as Mavericks Beat Heat to Tie NBA Finals at 2-2

Dirk Nowitzki ignored a fever to score 10 fourth-quarter points as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat 86-83 to tie the National Basketball Association Finals at two games apiece.

While Nowitzki rallied his team last night at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Miami’s LeBron James was held to eight points -- his lowest tally in more than four years.

Dallas trailed 74-65 early in the fourth quarter before finishing with a 21-9 run. Nowitzki played with a sinus infection and a 101-degree Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) fever earlier in the day.

“The doctors tried to get it down, they couldn’t get it under control,” Dallas teammate Tyson Chandler said in a courtside television interview. “He was barely able to talk (earlier in the day). Every time he tried to speak, he was coughing up.”

Game 5 is tomorrow night in Dallas. The series then will shift back to Miami for Game 6 on June 12 and a decisive seventh game, if necessary, on June 14.

Nowitzki, a right-hander who scored the decisive layup with his injured left hand in Dallas’ Game 2 victory, scored 21 points and had 11 rebounds for the Mavericks. Chandler added 13 points and 16 rebounds.

“I didn’t really have a good night’s rest, so I was just under the weather a little bit,” Nowitzki, speaking at a news conference, said of his fever. “I’ll be alright on Thursday. It’s a little sinus infection.”

Worst Since 2007

James, who moved to the Heat from the Cleveland Cavaliers in July as a free agent, shot 3-for-11 and committed four turnovers. He had nine rebounds and seven assists.

It was his lowest-scoring game since he had eight points on Jan. 5, 2007, for the Cavaliers against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The last time James had a lower tally was when he scored three points on Dec. 29, 2004, at home against Houston, the night before his 20th birthday. In 717 career NBA games, including the playoffs, he’s scored less than eight points four times, with the other occasions coming during the opening five weeks of his rookie season in 2003-04.

Dwyane Wade had 32 points to lead the Heat, who used a 13- 1 run that started late in the third quarter to take a nine- point lead with 10:12 left in the game.

Nowitzki and the Mavericks, facing a 3-1 deficit in the series, then took over. They held the Heat scoreless for more than five minutes while retaking the lead.

Nowitzki’s layup with 14.4 seconds left made it 84-81. Wade dunked to pull the Heat within a point with nine seconds remaining. Jason Terry, who had 17 points off the bench for Dallas, hit two free throws with 6.7 seconds to play for the final points of the game.

“Unbelievable, that’s who he is,” Dallas teammate Jason Kidd said of Nowitzki. “Being sick and not feeling 100 percent, he wanted the ball down the stretch and he delivered.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Rob Gloster in San Francisco at rgloster@bloomberg.net; Mason Levinson at American Airlines Center in Dallas at mlevinson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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