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Now the Heat's strategy was simple: Don't give Nowitzki (who had a splendid 34 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks) a chance to get near the ball. Only he got not one chance but two.
The first, less than 10 seconds after Bosh's cold-bloodedness, resulted in a turnover. Nowitzki went up for a turnaround jumper, felt Wade preparing to block his shot from the side, knew Marion was open in the corner and threw the ball into the stands just as Marion was breaking away from the corner and toward the basket.
All night Wade had been the most aggressive player on the floor as well as the loudest leader. He challenged James, Bosh and others to follow him. "For me it started in practice [yesterday]," Wade (29 points, 11 rebounds) said. "I was very aggressive going to the hole practicing. My teammates [had] seen it. They could tell that I wanted this game."
After Nowitzki's errant pass to Marion, Miami ran down so much clock that James had to throw up a three-pointer that rattled out. That left the Mavs with just 4.4 seconds to set up Nowitzki. He dashed behind a screen out beyond the three-point line to receive the inbounds pass, where he was faced by Haslem. Nowitzki drove into the top of the key and up-faked slightly, but Haslem was having none of it. Nowitzki fell away backward as he launched the shot over Haslem's outstretched fingers. The ball hovered over the paint like an infield pop-up, and when it bounced off the rim, Haslem, and the Heat, celebrated.
GAME 4 June 7, Dallas
Mavericks 86, Heat 83
DALLAS HAD TO WIN THIS GAME, KNOWING THAT IT couldn't expect to recover from a three-games-to-one deficit against a Finals favorite that had controlled the run of play for most of the series. When it was over, the Mavericks had given themselves an opportunity to grab a 3--2 lead if they could win Game 5 on their home court.
Dallas had won ugly but it had won. This was a night on which Nowitzki went 6 for 19 from the field and missed 13 of his final 16 attempts while dealing with a sinus infection and a 101° fever. With 25 seconds left he posted up Haslem near the free throw line with the Mavs holding a one-point lead. Instead of letting the clock run, Nowitzki burst past Haslem and squeezed in a lunging layup off the glass just before Wade could challenge the shot.
"I was going to play the clock down, but I saw I had a little opening, so I just went for it," Nowitzki said. "They really played my left, which obviously the whole league does. So I was able to rip through and get to my right and finally finish a layup."