Dallas Mavericks beat Miami Heat to win first NBA title in franchise history
By EDDIE SEFKO
MIAMI -- As snow fell on a steamy June night, pigs suddenly grew wings and Maverick fans will wake up today and hit every green light on the way to work.
Yes, the Mavericks are NBA champions.
The little franchise that never could, just did.
The Mavericks whipped Miami 105-95 Sunday night to finish off a rugged, mesmerizing NBA Finals by beating the Heat 4-2 in the best-of-seven series.
It’s the first championship for the Mavericks, who have been in existence since 1980. It will validate the careers of Dirk Nowitzki , Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and everybody associated with the organization. It’s the first title of any kind for a Dallas sports team since the Stars won the NHL championship in 1999.
That it happened on Miami’s home court made it just a little sweeter. It was five years ago that the Heat danced and partied at American Airlines Center in Dallas when the Mavericks lost by the same 4-2 series result.
Redemption has never tasted so sweet.
The Mavericks got massive efforts from virtually everybody who stepped on the floor. Even Dirk Nowitzki, the series MVP, overcame horrible shooting with a big rebounding night and the attention he was getting opened up great opportunities for a slew of teammates that had big games.
Jason Terry had 27 points and the stat sheet was littered with big showings like four crucial offensive rebounds in the final five minutes that kept the Heat from having any chance of erasing what was a 12-point Mavericks lead.
At the end, owner Mark Cuban and coach Rick Carlisle were the first to share a long hug.
Game 6 was every bit as gripping as the entire series has been. The teams were separated by four points total in the first five games.
The Heat was making it tough on itself by missing a boatload of free throws. The Mavericks had led throughout the second quarter and were up 94-87 when their defense shut down the Heat on three consecutive possessions to ice the game.
Nowitzki had a forgettable first half, shooting 1-of-12.
He quickly dropped in his first jumper of the third quarter as the Mavericks outscored the Heat 10-5 to go up 63-56. Shawn Marion continued his stellar play in the series with a well-timed jump over Wade for a put-back to finish that surge.
They still had a seven-point cushion when Wade got a charging foul against Brian Cardinal and was called for a technical foul when he protested the call with 3:55 left in the third.
The Mavericks were getting remarkable contributions from very surprising sources. Ian Mahinmi pulled down a huge offensive rebound with under 10 seconds to go in the third quarter, then got a feed from Terry for a 16-foot jumper at the third quarter buzzer for an 81-72 Mavericks lead going into the final stanza.
They were 12 minutes from history.
It seemed they had the stars aligned from the start with some incredible runs.
The Mavericks went on a 21-4 push in the first quarter to go up 32-24 before Miami reserve Eddie House dropped in a 3-pointer to close it to five going into the second period.
That was only the beginning. Their advantage reached 40-28 when DeShawn Stevenson hit the third of his three 3-pointers in the half.
The Heat had seen enough.
With House, who played a total of three minutes in the first five games, knocking in two more triples, the Heat put two touchdowns on the Mavericks to turn the 12-point deficit into a 42-40 lead.
It was at the end of that roll with 6:25 to go in the half that the Mavericks called timeout and players who were heading toward their benches got a little testy. Udonis Haslem and Stevenson pushed each other and the Heat’s Mario Chalmers , who got the start for Mike Bibby at guard, got involved.
The referees stopped the game for about five minutes to review the incident on video before assessing technical fouls to Haslem, Chalmers and Stevenson.
Many players, including James, who was not in the game at the time, strayed from the immediate bench areas. It will be up to the NBA’s discretion, but the rulebook is clear that any players leaving the bench during an altercation are to be suspended for the ensuing game.