Mavs beat the Heat, 98-96

Dirk Nowitzki scored 30 points and Josh Howard had 20 points and drew a game-saving foul with 2.3 seconds left, giving the Dallas Mavericks a 98-96 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

In a game that often had the intensity of their 2006 NBA finals matchup, the Heat led by 11 late in the third and were up by four with several minutes left. But a series of bad possessions—culminated by Mario Chalmers’ charging foul into Howard when Dwyane Wade was asking for the ball or a timeout—ruined it for Miami.

The Mavericks beat the Heat for the 10th straight time, although that’s only the regular season. Miami climbed from an 0-2 deficit to win the next four and claim the ’06 title.

Dallas hasn’t won a playoff series since, going out in the first round both times. The Mavs own the eighth seed in the West right now but are hoping to move up. This was their second straight win and improved them to 10-1 at home since the All-Star break. This also was the start of four of five games at home.

Miami is fifth in the East—and slipping. The Heat lost for the fourth time in five games. It’s also a third straight road loss, with this starting a run of four-of-five on the road.

Wade had 23 points and six assists, but wasn’t able to pull off any late-game heroics, in part because of stiff defense by Jason Kidd.

Instead, the Heat saw Michael Beasley miss a pair of free throws and a jumper, and Chalmers miss a layup, all in the final 2:35. Beasley redeemed himself by making a pair of free throws to put Miami within 97-96 with 33 seconds left.

Kidd missed a shot on the ensuing possession and Chalmers grabbed the rebound. He went up the court, ignoring or simply not seeing Wade’s plea, then rammed into Howard just inside the 3-point line. Miami fouled Jason Terry, but he missed one of two free throws with 1.3 seconds left, reviving the Heat’s comeback hopes.

However, Wade wasn’t able to even get off a last-second shot.

Howard was playing his second game in two nights after missing 11 straight with an ankle injury. He started 4-of-5 and had nine points in the first quarter, then finished 6-of-12 with eight rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists.

Kidd had only three points and four rebounds, but 11 assists. Terry scored 14 and Brandon Bass had 10, many on booming dunks.

Chalmers scored 18 and Beasley 17. Daequan Cook scored 13 and Jermaine O’Neal had 12, although he shot 4-of-15.

The first half was tense, with neither team leading by five. Guys were diving for loose balls and challenging every shot as if this was a postseason game.

Miami began to pull away in the third quarter as Dallas went more than 6 months without a field goal. Even after Nowitzki ended the drought, the Heat still kept stretching the lead, getting up 62-51.

But the Mavericks soon rallied, with a 3-pointer from Nowitzki sending them into the final period trailing just 73-71.

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