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Stackhouse barrage buries Heat

Originally Published: June 9, 2006
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
DALLAS -- Jerry Stackhouse is known as a streaky outside shooter who lives off his drives to the rim, but a little late-night target practice helped him shoot down Miami on Sunday.

Though only a 27.7 percent 3-point shooter on the year, the Mavs' super sub broke open a close game late in the second quarter with three straight 3-pointers, staking the Mavs to a 16-point halftime lead. On the middle trifecta, Stackhouse also drew a foul on Dwyane Wade for a four-point play -- one of two on the night for Dallas, after there had been only six in Finals history coming into the night.

Stackhouse credited a shooting session the previous evening for his success.

"The way they have been slacking off in the corner, it was a good opportunity for me to go in the gym last night late and work on some 3s, and it paid off," said Stackhouse.

Stackhouse estimated he was in the gym for about half an hour Saturday night, and that helped him get into a zone.

"After I shot the first one, there was no hesitation once I caught it the second time," he said. "When you're feeling good, you let it ride."

The 10-year vet's personal 10-0 run (part of an overall 11-0 Mavs run) to end the second stanza marked the second straight game Dallas made a double-digit run to close the half. He topped off his closing flourish by nailing a contested bomb from the corner with 2.5 seconds left that sent the American Airlines Center crowd into a frenzy.

"Stack was huge in the run we had in the second quarter," said Dirk Nowitzki. "He's a very streaky shooter and he just caught fire and it was fun to watch."

He wasn't done with his end-of-quarter magic. Stackhouse pumped in another long-range bomb to close the third stanza, giving Dallas a 24-point lead and rendering the fourth quarter irrelevant.

"That was big because we talked about not settling for 3s and you'll have your opportunity to get some," said Mavs coach Avery Johnson. "But if they were there, take them and take them with confidence."

Overall, Stackhouse was a perfect 4-for-4 from downtown while scoring 17 of his 19 points in the crucial middle quarters, when Dallas took the game over. And despite his low percentages for the season and his career (30.1 percent), Heat coach Pat Riley was none too happy to see him get so many open looks.

"I don't think we want to live with any open shots [against] this team," said Riley. "He's too streaky a shooter. He'll make 3s, he'll make shots, and he did a great job for them today."

Stackhouse's electric effort off the bench stood in marked contract to Miami's glaring lack of production from the second unit. Dallas' bench outscored Miami's 41-20, coming on the heels of a 24-2 advantage in Game 1.

It wasn't just because of Stackhouse, either. Devin Harris added 11 points and outstanding defense on Dwyane Wade, backup center Erick Dampier outplayed Shaquille O'Neal (!), and even slumping Keith Van Horn got in the act, nailing two long jumpers in the first half.

"I think our depth is really what got us here," said Nowitzki. "We won 60 games with a lot of injury problems. Our bench has had to step up a lot of times."

But the hero of the evening was unquestionably Stackhouse.

"When I stepped on the floor tonight and the first [shot] went down, my mechanics were right and I felt I was doing the things I needed to do to have a good shooting night," he said.

As a result, Dallas is halfway to its first-ever championship, while the reeling Heat are headed back to Miami in search of answers. Just goes to show that practice can make perfect.

John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. To e-mail him, click here.

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