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Rapid Reaction: Mavs 98, Heat 96

12/20/2010

MIAMI -- How it happened: In a game in which two of the NBA's top defenses were on display, it was the Dallas Mavericks who came out on top with one of their lock-down fourth quarters that they've used to seal wins against Boston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Utah and now the Miami Heat.

This one, though, was a little weird. With 1:24 to play, neither team had hit 90 points and it appeared the Mavs might hold yet another opponent to less than 20 points in the fourth quarter.

No matter. The Heat's 12-game win streak is done as the Mavs (22-5) swept the season series. This one was impressive. The Heat (21-9) had turned a corner since losing in Dallas on Nov. 27 and were the talk of the league. Dallas held Miami to 40.5 percent shooting and the Heat struggled in the 30s for much of the night.

The Mavs held each of Miami's Big Three to less than 20 points until Dwyane Wade hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the game was over. Wade finished with 22 points and Chris Bosh had 19. LeBron James, with Caron Butler on him much of the night, had 19 points and 10 rebounds, but his stats don't tell the story of how difficult his night really was.

James was just 6-of-17 from the floor and was scoreless with four turnovers in the first half.

Dirk Nowitzki led all scorers with 26 points, but it was Jason Terry who put together a remarkable fourth quarter after he was held scoreless on 0-of-5 shooting for three quarters. But the fourth quarter is Terry time, and he came through with 19 points in the final 12 minutes, hitting three 3-pointers, including two in the final 2:27 that absolutely killed the Heat.

Neither team could gain a decisive edge in the third quarter. The Mavs made a move with a run for a seven-point lead, but the Heat came right back with a 13-0 run to lead by six. It took James’ buzzer beater to give Miami a 68-65 lead after three.

The Mavs jumped out to a 14-2 lead and led 23-10 before Miami clamped down defensively and created transition opportunities. A 12-0 run to end the first quarter grew to 17-0 in the first minute of the second quarter for a 27-23 Heat lead.

Dallas settled things down, used a 12-2 to surge back in front and then the rest of the first half was nip-and-tuck as the Heat headed to the locker room with a 44-43 lead.

What it means: The Mavs' road win streak moves to six in a row as they improved to 9-1 away from home. It's also their third consecutive win overall since having their 12-game win streak snapped one week ago. Dallas plays at the reshuffled Orlando Magic on Tuesday night, the final pre-Christmas game. Then Dallas won’t play again until Dec. 27 at Oklahoma City.

Play of the game: Playing in front of numerous family and friends that flew in from Puerto Rico, J.J. Barea didn’t get a ton of floor time -- just 12 minutes -- but he delivered valuable minutes in the middle portion of the fourth quarter. With 6:26 remaining, Barea drove fearlessly into the lane, split the two big men that collapsed on him and scored on a high-floating layup to put the Mavs back in front, 76-75. The game was nip-and-tuck from there, but the Mavs never trailed again.

Stat of the night: Entering the final period, Terry had been 0-of-5 from the floor and was scoreless. Like clockwork, Terry knew what time it was. He immediately hit a 19-foot jumper to pull the Mavs to within 70-67. He finished the fourth quarter with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including three 3-pointers. His 3-ball from the right wing as the shot clock was winding down gave the Mavs an 86-81 lead with 2:27 to go and his third from the corner with 1:25 to play put Dallas up 89-85.