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Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks cool off Heat in Game 5; take 3-2 lead in NBA Finals

The Dallas Mavericks, behind Dirk Nowitzki's 29 points, went on a 17-4 scoring run with just over four and a half minutes remaining to defeat the Miami Heat Thursday night, 112-103 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

By Christopher HartmanContributor / June 10, 2011

Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki celebrates his basket against the Miami Heat in the fourth quarter during Game 5 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Dallas, June 9.

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

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Doubters of the Dallas Mavericks have always looked to their NBA Finals matchup against the Miami Heat with two numbers in mind: 3 versus 1. Miami’s “big three” of lightning-quick, pinpoint shooting scorers, versus Dallas’s prodigious seven-foot German forward, Dirk Nowitzki.

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However, after five games, the veteran Mavericks have confounded critics and established a reputation for hard-fought comebacks and clutch wins. This was once again the case in Game 5 Thursday night in Dallas, where the Mavericks ended the fourth period on a 17-4 scoring run that gave them their largest winning margin (9 points) of the Finals, 112-103.

And apparently, those who have dismissed the Mavericks as too slow in transition and too reliant on one player’s performance have missed where Dallas has had back-to-back games getting five players scoring in double figures. The Mavericks have distributed the ball well and, in addition to Nowitzki’s gutsy play, have gotten some outstanding performances inside by Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler as well as clutch scoring outside by Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and J.J. Barea.

Defensively, Dallas has allowed Miami only 91.8 points per game so far, which is over four points below their season average of 96.1. For a team that in the playoffs routinely scored and allowed over 100 points per game and was widely thought to wither in the face of Miami’s sixth-rated NBA defense, Dallas has themselves become incredibly stingy in that area.

After a few games of mixed results from beyond the arc, the Mavericks managed 68.4 percent (13-for-19) from 3-point distance – which offset a 36-26 rebounding deficit. Six Dallas players had at least one three-pointer, led by J.J. Barea (4-for-5), Terry (3-for-5) and Kidd (3-for-5).

Once again, Miami’s perimeter offense went cold as ice when it counted most. With four and a half minutes remaining in the game, Miami went up 99-95, but LeBron James scored their next points with only a half-minute remaining. And that was his only bucket of the entire fourth period.

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