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Alston's 3 with 0.5 left in OT wins it

3/27/2004

MIAMI (AP) -- A playoff game couldn't be more exciting than what
the Miami Heat experienced Friday night.

Rafer Alston's 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left in overtime
lifted Miami to a 119-118 victory over the Dallas Mavericks,
extending the Heat's winning streak to seven games.

"A dream shot," Alston said. "It's a design play, not
necessarily for myself, but it's dream shot.

"When I was on the bench, watching from the opening tip, I
couldn't believe the atmosphere. It was almost a packed house. It
was something special to see."

Dwyane Wade had 24 points for Miami, which also extended its
home winning streak to eight games. Lamar Odom added 26 points and
18 rebounds, and Eddie Jones and Alston each scored 20 as the Heat
remained sixth in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

"The atmosphere, the game itself ... I don't think a playoff
game can get better than that," Wade said. "It went down to the
wire, the crowd was going crazy, and teams were playing their
hearts out."

Odom hit the first of two free throws after he was intentionally
fouled to pull Miami to 118-116 with 4.1 seconds left. Odom missed
the second free throw, and the ball was tipped out of bounds off
Antoine Walker's back with 2.5 seconds left. Alston caught the
inbounds pass from Caron Butler and sank the winning 3-pointer from
the left corner.

"He found a hole in our zone," Mavericks coach Don Nelson
said. "There must have been a breakdown at the end of the game. I
had two rookies (Marquis Daniels and Josh Howard) in the game, but
I'm not blaming the rookies. Somebody should of helped on Alston
though."

"I got screened and he was open for the shot," Daniels said.
"He made a big shot for them. He got some good open looks, and he
made us pay for it."

It was Alston's fifth 3-pointer, his fourth in the final 17
minutes when he scored 15 of his 20 points.

Daniels scored a career-high 31 points for the Mavericks, who
lost their third in a row. Dirk Nowitzki added 25 before fouling
out with 1:53 left in the fourth quarter.

Antawn Jamison's jumper with 1:32 left in overtime gave Dallas a
114-113 edge. Following a missed jumper by Miami's Brian Grant and
a Mavericks turnover, Odom worked in close but missed a shot with
34.3 seconds left. Daniels then hit a driving layup.

Following a timeout, Odom drove the lane, hit the layup and was
fouled with 29 seconds remaining in OT. But he missed the tying
free throw.

Jamison's put back with 4.7 seconds left gave the Mavericks a
118-115 lead and set up the hectic finish.

The victory gave Miami its longest winning streak since a
seven-game string from March 28-April 9, 2000.

In the fourth quarter, Daniels hit a jumper to give Dallas a
106-101 lead with 1:39 left. Alston answered with a 3-pointer, and
Jones' two free throws with 54.4 seconds remaining tied the score.

After Daniels, who scored 18 second-half points, missed a short
jumper with 32 seconds left, Miami grabbed the ball and called a
timeout with 24.4 on the clock.

Alston drove and missed with 14.2 left, and Steve Nash missed a
jumper in the final second.

Nowitzki fouled out with Dallas ahead 104-99 and 1:53 left in
the fourth quarter.

"He's the key to our team, but we can't base our success or
failure on one guy," Mavericks center Shawn Bradley said. "We've
got a lot of talent on this team, and we've got to find a way to
win."

Miami improved to 25-12 at home. Dallas fell to 14-23 on the
road.

"I don't know if there ever has been a better game played in
this arena," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. "This was absolutely
a great game. It was a great game for the franchise."

The Mavericks, who have lost eight of 13, fell to 1-3 on their
current road trip.

Dallas closed the third quarter with a 15-6 run that built an
84-81 lead. Danny Fortson scored 11 points in 11 minutes of the
third quarter.

Jones scored 14 points and Odom had 11 points and 11 rebounds to
help the Heat take a 57-54 halftime edge. It was the 12th
consecutive game Miami led at halftime.

Nowitzki had 14 points and eight rebounds in the first half,
when both teams were 22-of-47 from the field.

Game notes
Dallas swingman Michael Finley, listed as day-to-day with a
strained right calf, missed his second consecutive game. He sat on
the bench in street clothes. ... Alston extended his team-record
consecutive game streak with at least one 3-pointer to 38. ... Wade
had five dunks. ... The Mavericks had won six of the previous seven
meetings with Miami. ... It was the Heat's first nationally
televised game since April 10, 2002.