An ugly night for the Mavs
By John Schuhmann
MIAMI, June 15 -- Dirk Nowitzki: 2-of-14. Josh Howard: 1-of-8. Jerry Stackhouse started out 4-for-7, but shot 2-of-11 the rest of the way. That's certainly not going to get it done. The Mavs missed layups. They missed jumpers. They pretty much missed everything. It was their worst shooting game of the postseason by far, as they only hit 25 of their 79 field goal attempts, a .316 clip.
It started ugly with a 9-for-23 (.391) first quarter. It got worse as they shot 5-of-18 (.278) in the second. Meanwhile, the Heat shot .583 in the first half and the only thing keeping the Mavs in the game was Miami's atrocious foul shooting.
Jason Terry and Devin Harris got them going a bit in the third and they were still hanging around early in the fourth, but because their stars just couldn't hit anything, you had that feeling that a comeback was next to impossible. That feeling was right on as the Mavs scored just seven points on 2-of-18 from the field in the final period. That is the lowest scoring quarter by one team in NBA Finals history.
The Mavs have proven to us that they're more of a defensive team than they ever have been, and as they showed in Game 1, they don't need to tear it up offensively to win. But they do have to shoot better than .316 to even sniff victory in the Finals, as Dirk Nowitzki summed up after the game.
"The bottom line is," Nowitzki said, "if you shoot 31 percent from the floor, you're not going to win."
Dallas actually didn't look that bad offensively to start the game. They attacked the basket early and often, drawing six fouls, scoring six points in the paint and getting to the line nine times in the first six minutes. They led by four at that point, but a 7-2 Dwyane Wade run, one of many runs the Heat would have during the course of the game, gave Miami the lead for good right after that.
The Dallas night was typified by a possession a couple of minutes later when they grabbed four offensive rebounds (three from Adrian Griffin) on one trip down the floor, but missed five straight shots (three from Terry, two from Stackhouse) before Alonzo Mourning finally cleared the ball for the Heat.
After their fourth-quarter collapse in Game 3, the Mavs told us that they were unfazed. They will likely say the same thing before Game 5, but they had the championship all but wrapped up with six and a half minutes to go on Tuesday, and now it's a three-game series.
Staying confident may be a little tougher this time around.
"You just gotta put it behind you," Jason Terry said. "Regardless of what happens, whether you lose by one or 20. You put it behind it you and keep your head up high."
Easier Said Than Done
"He knows how to get to certain spots," Harris said. "But we know what those spots are and we didn't do a good job of taking those away [in Game 3]."
Before Game 4, we asked him to elaborate.
"It's pretty self-explanatory if you're watching the game," Harris told us.
So we watched. From the left side, he went baseline ... and scored. From the right, he went middle ... and scored. From the top, he went right ... and scored. He shot 13-of-23 for 36 points.
It's one thing to know what to do. It's another to know how to do it.
Of course, it's not just the fault of just one defender.
"It doesn't rely on one guy," Terry said after the game. "We gotta make him play in a crowd. I don't know if we did a good job of that tonight. He hit a lot of good rhythm shots. When a guy's in rhythm, as you can tell, such a player like Dwyane Wade is going to make a lot of shots. Give him credit. We didn't do anything to break his rhythm tonight."
The Heat have still yet to get a big game from Shaquille O'Neal. Their role players have been inconsistent. Yet, the series is tied at two games apiece, because Wade has carried Miami on his back.
"Wade has hurt us in the worst way," Avery Johnson said. "We haven't been able to guard him."
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