Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki Claim 1st NBA Title by Denying Heat, LeBron James
Nowitzki scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half as the Mavericks beat the Miami Heat 105-95 last night in Miami. Jason Terry added 27 points off the bench for Dallas, which took the best-of-seven NBA Finals four games to two.
It’s the first title for the 7-foot Nowitzki, a 10-time All-Star from Germany who has spent his entire 13-year NBA career with the Mavericks. He and Terry were the only remaining players from the Dallas team that lost to Miami in the 2006 NBA Finals.
“This is a phenomenal thing for the city of Dallas,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after the trophy presentation ceremony. “And Dirk Nowitzki is one of the very greatest players in the history of this game. That has been validated here.”
James was denied a title in his first season with Miami, which was listed by oddsmakers as championship favorites after adding James and Chris Bosh as free agents during the offseason to team with fellow All-Star Dwyane Wade. James scored 21 points to lead the Heat last night, while Bosh had 19.
“We struggled at times. Sometimes we looked good offensively, other times we looked out of rhythm and a little out of character,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said at a news conference. “I think a little of that is the competition.”
NBA Finals MVP
Nowitzki, who missed 11 of 12 shots in the first half last night, scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and was chosen Most Valuable Player of the finals.
“If you’re in this league for 13 years and just battling and always just coming up a little short, that’s why this is extra special,” the 32-year-old Nowitzki said.
Mavericks guard Jason Kidd, 38, also got the first title of his 17-year career, after having lost his two previous Finals appearances with the New Jersey Nets. Mavericks billionaire owner Mark Cuban, who bought the franchise in 2000, watched his team make 11 straight playoff appearances without a title until yesterday.
“The whole world was telling us that we were one-and-done boys, that we were going to get knocked out in the first round,” Cuban said after receiving the championship trophy from NBA Commissioner David Stern. “This team has so much heart and so much determination.”
The Mavericks led 53-51 at halftime after a series of scoring runs by both teams over the first 24 minutes.
Miami jumped out to a 22-15 lead. Dallas responded with a 17-5 scoring run after Nowitzki picked up his second foul and went to the bench.
The Mavericks scored eight of the first nine points in the second quarter to open a 40-28 lead. The Heat then went on a 14- 0 run to go back in front with 6:25 left in the half.
As the Mavericks called a timeout, a skirmish broke out when DeShawn Stevenson of Dallas pushed Miami’s Udonis Haslem, who was walking off the court with his hand raised. Mario Chalmers of the Heat ran over and confronted Stevenson as players from both teams met at midcourt. Technical fouls were called on Haslem, Chalmers and Stevenson.
While Nowitzki had three points in the first half, Dallas took a lead into the break on the strength of Terry’s 19 points off the bench.
After Miami briefly regained the lead early in the third quarter, the Mavericks went back in front for good.
Nowitzki hit his lone 3-pointer of the game with 5:07 left in the third quarter to give Dallas a 71-65 lead. The Mavericks took a nine-point lead into the final quarter when Ian Mahinmi hit a jumper as the third quarter ended -- his second basket of the Finals -- to put Dallas up 81-72.
The Mavericks extended their advantage to 89-77 with 8:21 left -- matching their largest lead of the game -- as J.J. Barea hit a driving layup after James missed a short jumper off the backboard on the other end.
James finished with six of the 16 turnovers for the Heat, who never got closer than seven points the rest of the way. Chalmers had 18 points for the Heat and Wade finished with 17.
“Jason came up to me in the fourth quarter and he said, ‘Keep pushing, remember ‘06,’’’ said Nowitzki, who lost to the Heat in six games that year.
Dallas won seven of its final eight road playoff games and dealt Miami its only two home losses of the postseason. The Mavericks hit 11 of 26 3-point attempts last night.
‘‘I said it all season long, we had great chemistry with the guys, we had fun in the locker room,’’ said Nowitzki, who added 11 rebounds. ‘‘This is a special group and we’re world champions. It’s unbelievable.”
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