DALLAS (AP)—Playing their fourth game in five nights, the Dallas Mavericks had barely enough energy to outlast lowly Miami.
Dirk Nowitzki had 25 points and 12 rebounds and matched his career high with eight assists as the Mavericks recovered from a sleepy start to beat the Heat 98-92 on Saturday night.
“This was a tough game, being our fourth game in five days, and we came out a little sluggish,” Nash said. “But in the fourth quarter we were more physical and aggressive defensively and that paid off in the end for us.”
The Mavericks, an NBA-best 40-12, bounced back from a three-game losing streak—their longest of the season—with their second victory in two nights.
Forward Eduardo Najera, making his fifth start of the season, gave the Mavericks a spark with nine points and six rebounds as Dallas held on despite being outrebounded 55-38, 19-6 on the offensive boards.
“Miami’s a very physical team and we knew they’d be a big challenge for us,” Najera said. “We didn’t respond well in the first half but in the second half we rebounded and played defense a lot better.”
Once again, the Heat struggled offensively, hitting only 36 of 90 attempts from the field and getting to the free throw line a mere 13 times, converting 10.
Dallas tightened defensively in the fourth quarter as Miami hit only nine of 26 shots from the field.
The Mavericks converted 31 of 38 free throws, with Nowitzki going 10-for-11.
“Dallas did a good job against us defensively,” said Best. “They really got into us and changed the momentum of the game.”
Miami started the night as the league’s second lowest scoring team at 85.3 points per game, and the Heat couldn’t come up with key baskets with the game on the line.
“We played as hard as we could but we couldn’t overcome our offensive sloppiness in the second half,” Miami coach Pat Riley said. “That and the free throw discrepancy was all too much.”
Dallas, which trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half, took its first lead since early in the second quarter on Van Exel’s leaning 10-footer with 9:26 remaining for a 74-73 edge.
Nowitzki’s three-point play with 6:02 left and Nash’s 3-pointer with 4:30 to play put the Mavericks in front, 85-80.
Miami was unable to get closer than three the rest of the way, with Finley’s two free throws with 21.1 seconds left extending Dallas’ lead to 92-87.
Miami held a 49-37 lead with 1:25 left in the second quarter, but Dallas closed the deficit to 49-42 by halftime.
The Heat, 94-82 winners at Houston on Friday night, held a 30-17 first-half rebounding edge and limited the Mavericks to 14-of-37 field-goal accuracy.
Dallas went 4-for-17 from the field in the second quarter and was pounded on the offensive boards in the first half, 10-3.
Eddie House, who had 13 points, took over in the third quarter, scoring nine of the Heat’s first 13 points for a 62-54 lead.
But the Mavericks finished the quarter with a 12-6 spurt to reduce theHeat’s advantage to 68-66 entering the final quarter.
Miami G Eddie Jones missed his second straight game due to a left groin strain. … The Mavs have won four of their last five meetings with the Heat. … Dallas is 7-4 this season in the second game of back-to-backs. … Dallas had only five turnovers, with Miami converting two points off turnovers. That’s the fewest points off turnovers by a Mavericks opponent this season. … Dallas had 24 points off 16 Miami turnovers. … The Mavs have been outrebounded in 21of their last 25 games.