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Sekou Smith

Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade and Heat fans started celebrating a bit prematurely in the fourth quarter of Game 2.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

Resilient Mavs rally, spurred by Heat's early confidence

Posted Jun 3 2011 12:36AM

MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade left his right hand in the air for a few extra seconds, just for effect.

LeBron James came over to join in the celebration after Wade's 3-pointer pushed the Miami Heat's lead to 15 points with 7:14 to play. They danced a little, smiled a little more and reveled in the moment.

The home team was cruising towards what appeared to be a commanding 2-0 lead in The Finals before a raucous AmericanAirlines Arena crowd that surely had designs on the parade route they would line for the official delivery of that Larry O'Brien trophy.

What could wrong on a night when seemingly everything had gone so right?

How about everything, and then some.

The Mavericks closed the game with a stunning 22-5 run as Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks won 95-93 in Game 2 of The Finals, snatching the momentum and the Heat's overflowing confidence as the series shift to Dallas this weekend for Games 3, 4 and 5.

"This isn't a good feeling," Heat point guard Mike Bibby said. "It's going to be tough to sleep. This hurts. It definitely hurts."

The Heat clearly didn't do their homework on this Mavericks team, a resilient bunch that has rallied from double-digit deficits four times, including Thursday night's comeback for the ages, all on the road, in these playoffs to win games.

Video They rallied from 12 points down to eliminate the Portland in Game 6 in the first round at the Rose Garden on April 28.

Video They battled back from 16 down in the third quarter to stun the two-time defending champion Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals at Staples Center on May 2.

• They broke a young Thunder team when Video they rallied from a 15-point deficit in the final five minutes of Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at Oklahoma City Arena on May 23.

The Mavericks are the first team since the Chicago Bulls in 1992 to win a game in The Finals after trailing by 15 or more in the fourth quarter.

So when they saw the Heat's two biggest stars out-dancing the fabled Heat dancers right in front of their bench, you had to know it was on.

"It was frustrating," Mavericks center Tyson Chandler said. "You're a competitor, so to see a guy hit a shot like that and dance in front of your bench, I don't know what competitor wouldn't be frustrated."

Yet neither James nor Wade would allow their spontaneous dance routine to be used an excuse for their failings in the clutch.

"It was no celebration at all," James said. "I was excited about the fact that he hit a big shot and we went up 15. The same we've done over the course of the season. There was no celebration at all. We knew we had seven minutes to go still to close out the game. As far as celebration, that word has been used with us all year. But we knew how much time was left in the game still."

That's not the way it will look when the Heat sit down review the Game 2 footage before their next practice.

While the Mavericks heated up after that impromptu episode of dance fever, the Heat melted down. They finished the game 1-for-11 from the floor with two free throws and two turnovers, a feeble finish for a team that dominated the action for the first three and a half quarters.

"First of all, every team in the league when they go on a run, they do something," Wade said. "Whether it's a signal, whether it's a chest bump. It's a part of the game of basketball. A celebration is confetti, champagne bottles ... if it pumped them up -- they won the game.

"Obviously, it did something. That's not the first time. It won't be the last time that, if we do a great play that we come and our teammates and we do something. It had nothing to do with the outcome of the game for us."

That's not the way it looked to the rest of us.

Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and the author of's Hang Time blog. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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