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Mavericks stifle Heat to edge closer to first title

Dallas now hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven NBA finals and can win their first championship by taking one of the remaining two games in Miami.

Lebron James, left, is blocked by Jason Kidd during Game 5.
Lebron James, left, is blocked by Jason Kidd during Game 5.

DALLAS // The Dallas Mavericks used a storming late run to move to the brink of their first NBA title with a 112-103 victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday.

With a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Finals, Dallas can now claim the crown by winning one of the two remaining contests, but they will have to complete the feat in Miami, where the teams split the opening two games.

The Mavericks went on a 15-3 run to finish off the Heat, turning a three-point deficit into the comfortable victory amid chants of "Beat the Heat" from a boisterous crowd of 20,433.

"That was a big win for us, obviously," said Dirk Nowitzki, who paced the Mavericks with 29 points. "We didn't want to go to Miami and give them basically two shots to close us out.

"So we kept plugging there in the fourth. And now we have to go down there and basically approach Sunday's game as Game Seven. You don't want to give this great team any hope."

Sharpshooting guard Jason Terry had a pair of three-pointers during the game-ending run, finishing with 21 points on eight-of-12 shooting and adding six assists.

Dallas shot 57 per cent, including an eyebrow-raising 13 of 19 from beyond the arc. Terry was three for five from long range, draining two of those bombs during the late-game run.

"All season long, ever since I've been a Maverick, I've been the guy in the fourth quarter they depended on to either make plays or make shots," said Terry.

"So I really relish that role. Regardless of what's going on throughout three quarters of the game, in the fourth quarter I know I'm depended on to come through.

"Thank God I was able to do that again tonight."

LeBron James disappeared once again in the fourth quarter, tallying only two points. The former NBA scoring champion and two-times MVP has now amassed a combined 11 points in the final quarter of the entire series.

James was blanked in the final frame of Tuesday's 86-83 Mavericks victory, and while he was more aggressive on Thursday, he had similar results.

"We as a team, we played good enough to win again," said James, who scored 17 points and had 10 rebounds and 10 assists. "Put ourself in position to win down the stretch.

"Guys made plays. They just made a few more than we did. That's what it came down to."

Dwyane Wade had 23 for the Heat, scoring 10 in the final quarter, while Chris Bosh added 19. Wade bruised his hip in the opening quarter when he collided with Dallas's Brian Cardinal.

He went to the locker room but returned shortly after and played 34 minutes in the emotionally charged affair.

"It was unfortunate I had to leave the game," said Wade. "But I came back and I finished it. Once you're on the court, you're on the court. I don't have no excuses.

"I was able to help my team get an opportunity to win. And I'll be fine Sunday."

Dallas shot 56.5 percent from the floor but were outrebounded 36-26 by a Miami team that committed 16 turnovers on the way to registering consecutive losses for the first time this post-season.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said Terry took on the responsibility of team leader when the Mavericks' best player, Nowitzki, was on the bench.

"He played great, and during periods where Dirk was out of the game we were going to him and he was delivering," Carlisle said.

"Those are tough minutes for us because it's hard when Dirk is out of the game. "But it's the total game we've all been preaching to Jet (Terry) since the playoffs began and tonight he did a terrific job."

Terry said he did not want the series to go to a Game Seven.

"We want to get this first one," he said.