MIAMI, March 26 (Ticker) --
The Miami Heat are rolling and their arena is rocking for the first time in three years.
NBA TV highlights from|
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Rafer wins it!
buried a 3-pointer over 7-6 center Shawn Bradley
from the left corner with less then a second remaining in overtime to lift the Heat to their seventh straight victory, a 119-118 triumph over the Dallas Mavericks.
Near the bottom of the league for the past two years, Miami has turned things around this season and is closing in on its first playoff berth since 2001. The change can be seen at AmericanAirlines Arena, which was filled with 16,500 exuberant fans for a nationally televised game.
"I'm happy to have the arena bouncing and rocking the way it is," Miami guard Eddie Jones
said. "They're giving us their energy."
Things looked bleak for Miami, which was facing a 118-115 deficit when Lamar Odom
was intentionally fouled with 4.1 seconds remaining. Odom made the first free throw and missed the second, but the rebound went off the backside of Dallas forward
with 2.1 seconds left.
inbounded to Alston, who lost his defender on a screen and buried the shot from the left corner over the league's tallest player while falling out of bounds.
"It's the greatest feeling ever," Alston said. "It's like one of those shots you dream about as little kids. As soon as it left my hand I thought it was going to swish. It felt like it was automatic."
The Heat got another break when Mavericks point guard Steve Nash
shot an airball off a lob as time expired, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
"I've never been in this kind of an atmosphere, so I'm a little at a loss for words," said Odom, who spent his first four seasons with the Clippers. "I've never seen anything like this, (a sellout crowd) going crazy at this time of year over one shot."
Alston was huge down the stretch, scoring 15 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. He scored five stright points to give the Heat a 113-110 lead with 2:22 left.
Dallas responded with eight of the next 10 points, taking a 118-115 lead when Antawn Jamison
followed a miss by Walker with just 4.7 seconds left. The Mavericks intentionally fouled Odom to prevent a game-tying 3-pointer, but the strategy didn't work.
"We fought through overtime and were in position to win at the end," Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "Unfortunately, they hit some awfully big shots and made some big plays and we end up losing the game."
Odom had 26 points and 18 rebounds and rookie Dwyane Wade
scored 24 points as Miami (35-37) remained within one game of fifth-place Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Dallas rookie Marquis Daniels
scored a season-high 31 points on 15-of-23 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds in place of Michael Finley
, who has a strained right calf.
"I just tried to stay assertive," Daniels said. "I was taking my shots and they seemed to fall."
had 25 points and 12 rebounds but fouled out with 1:53 left in regulation, when the Mavericks had a 104-99 edge. The Heat scored seven of the next nine points, including a 3-pointer by Alston with 85 seconds left, to force overtime.
The Mavericks (44-28) have lost three consecutive games and are just 1-3 on their five-game road trip against Eastern Conference foes. They are two games behind fifth-place Memphis in the West and just 2½ games ahead of Houston.