Dirk, Stack break through in the final five minutes

DALLAS (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal can tolerate losing to the Dallas
Mavericks. Losing to Mavs center Erick Dampier is another story.

After Dampier harassed O'Neal into two late misses in a 109-104
Dallas victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, O'Neal turned
his postgame interview into a Dampier bashing session.

"Damp is soft. Quote it, write it, tape it and send it to
him," said O'Neal, who until this season played Dampier four times
a year but never spoke out against him. "I tell you, there's
nothing there."

Dampier refused to be drawn into a war of words with someone he
described as "outweighing me by 80 pounds." He repeatedly said
the scoreboard is all that matters and the Mavs are 2-0 against the
Heat this season.

"If he says I'm soft, I'm soft. It's no big deal," said
Dampier, who had 15 points and 14 rebounds. "Winning is more
important than any remarks he might make."

O'Neal had 25 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three
blocks, but it wasn't enough to stretch Miami's three-game winning
streak. The Heat blew a 97-91 lead with 4:34 left by not scoring
again until hitting two 3-pointers in the final 11.6 seconds. By
then, the Mavericks had taken control, thanks mostly to Jerry

Stackhouse scored 10 of his team-high 24 points during that
closing stretch, including the go-ahead basket. His only miss in
that span even turned out OK as Josh Howard put it right back in
for a 101-98 lead that brought the large, loud crowd to its feet.

"We didn't do a good job on Stackhouse one-on-one and that's a
decision that beat us," Miami coach Stan Van Gundy said.

The Heat missed eight straight shots during their drought.
O'Neal contributed a pair, which was surprising because he'd made
11 of his previous 12. Dallas rankled him by switching to a zone
and forcing him to catch the ball farther from the rim than he

Plus, there was the Dampier factor -- whatever that was. O'Neal
never specified what angered him and if Dampier knew, he didn't

"I'm sure he's frustrated because they lost," Dampier said.

O'Neal is often frustrated by Dallas, although the source is
usually coach Don Nelson's defensive schemes (Nelson started the
Hack-a-Shaq, prompting O'Neal to once call him "a clown") and-or
Mavs center Shawn Bradley. This time, O'Neal was complimentary
about Bradley, at least in comparison to his comments about

Dirk Nowitzki fought through cold symptoms to score 19 points.
He was nowhere near as dominant as the previous meeting, when he
scored 41, but he still hit a jumper and two free throws during the
winning rally. The energy-sapping illness might have been part of
the reason he got to the line just three times, 10 fewer than his
big game against the Heat.

"In warmups, I never really got loose," Nowitzki said. "Once
I got a sweat going, I felt better."

Dwyane Wade led Miami with 29 points, eight assists and six
rebounds. He had several stunning dunks and a halftime
buzzer-beater among his 29 points, but contributed two wild misses
during Miami's meltdown. Udonis Haslem had 14 points and nine
rebounds, but also missed an open layup to start the collapse.

Dallas was coming off an ugly home loss to Allen Iverson-less
Philadelphia and is going into a stretch of five games in eight
days. The Mavs also play seven of their next eight on the road.

"This is a huge week for us," Nowitzki said.

Miami dominated the first half, but was outscored by nine while
O'Neal was on the bench and the game was close into the third
quarter. Dallas began to break away, then the Heat opened the
fourth with a 9-0 run to tie it.

Game notes
Avery Johnson, filling in for Nelson as coach of the Mavs,
got his first technical for arguing a call against Howard in the
game's opening minutes. ... Miami made 48.3 percent of its shots,
after making a season-worst 37.2 percent in a 113-93 loss to Dallas
in November. ... Forget the Super Bowl. This was the place to see
Dallas Cowboys. Among those in the crowd: Former stars Roger
Staubach and Drew Pearson, plus current stars Roy Williams,
Keyshawn Johnson and Jason Witten. Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt was
courtside, too; he and Williams are frequent attendees.