Mavericks top Heat for NBA title

Mavericks top Heat for NBA title »Play Video
The Dallas Mavericks celebrate after Game 6 of the NBA Finals basketball game against the Miami Heat Sunday, June 12, 2011, in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
MIAMI (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks and German star Dirk Nowitzki won their long-awaited first NBA title on Sunday, taking revenge on the Miami Heat by beating them 105-95 on their home court in Game 6 of the NBA finals.

Jason Terry scored 27 points and Nowitzki added 21 for the Mavericks, who won four of the series' last five games, a turnabout that could not have been sweeter after seeing the Heat win their first title in Dallas in Game 6 of the 2006 finals.

"Tonight," Terry said, "we got vindication."

LeBron James scored 21 for Miami, although was largely quiet after the opening minutes. Chris Bosh had 19, Mario Chalmers 18 and Dwyane Wade 17 for the Heat.

James, who will have to wait another year for a chance at his first NBA title, shook a few hands after the game and departed before most of the Mavs had put on their championship hats and T-shirts.

"This is a true team," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "This is an old bunch. We don't run fast or jump high. These guys had each other's backs. We played the right way. We trusted the pass. This is a phenomenal thing for the city of Dallas."

The Mavericks took control in the second half of the game after some wild momentum shifts in the opening two quarters. Miami took its last lead of the game just 64 seconds into the second half, lost it 16 seconds later and chased the Mavericks the rest of the way.

Nowitzki sealed the win with 2:27 left, hitting a jumper near the Miami bench to put Dallas up 99-89. He then walked to the Mavs' side slowly, right fist clenched above his head.

"I really still can't believe it," said Nowitzki, who was named the Most Valuable Player in the finals.

"We worked so hard and so long for it," he added. "The team has had an unbelievable ride."

Carlisle joined a highly elite group with the win — those with NBA titles as both a player and a head coach. He was a part of the Boston Celtics team that won the championship over the Houston Rockets in 1986.

Only 10 other men are on that list, including Lakers coach Phil Jackson and Heat President Pat Riley — who led Miami past Dallas in 2006 as coach and was the mastermind of what the Heat did last summer by getting James, Wade and Bosh on the same team with an eye on becoming a dynasty.

But after 72 wins this season, including playoffs, the Heat lost their last game. And that means this year was a disappointment — except to just about everyone else in the NBA, or so it would seem.

Hating the Heat became the NBA's craze this season, and the team knew it had no shortage of critics, everyone from Cleveland (where "Cavs for Mavs" shirts were popular during these finals) to Chicago (the city James and Wade both flirted with last summer) and just about every place in between lining up to take shots at Miami.

"It goes without saying," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "You're never really prepared for a moment like this. ... Neither team deserved this championship more than the other, but Dallas earned it."

The Heat raced out to an early 20-11 lead in the game, with James making his first four shots. But the advantage was quickly erased as Dallas went to the zone defense that befuddled Miami again.

Dallas then went on a 21-4 run over 5½ minutes, making 9 of 12 shots. Much of that came with Nowitzki on the bench with two fouls, the first time he's received more than one in the opening quarter of a playoff game this season.

DeShawn Stevenson made a pair of 3-pointers within a span of 24 seconds to give Dallas a 40-28 lead with 9:42 left in the half.

But Miami scored the next 14 points to reclaim the lead at 42-40, a run broken only after Stevenson, Udonis Haslem and Chalmers got technical fouls with 6:25 left in the half following a midcourt altercation.

The Heat had chances to take command of the game in the second half and wasted them all. They missed 13 of their 33 free throws, let the Mavericks score 27 points off turnovers and simply couldn't get a rebound in the final minutes.

Nowitzki finished 9 for 27, and the Mavs still won. He was 1 for 12 in the first half, and they were still ahead, 53-51, thanks largely to Terry's 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, along with a 17-4 edge in points off turnovers.

Plus, after James got off to such a fast start, he had two points in the final 19 minutes of the half. He didn't score in the second half until a layup with 1:49 remained in the third.

Jason Kidd made a 3-pointer late in the period, pushing the Dallas lead to 79-71. The lead was 81-72 entering the fourth, after Ian Mahinmi made a foul-line jumper as time expired in the third — his third basket of the entire series.

When the Mavericks took a 2-0 lead in Dallas during the '06 finals, plans for their victory parade were announced. But the Mavs didn't win another game in that series.

Now, that parade will finally happen. Kidd, at 38 years old, got his first championship. Nowitzki got his at 32, Terry at 33.

Miami, meanwhile, faces a gloomy offseason.

"Every situation has felt like it was an our-back-against-the-wall situation," James said Sunday morning, hours before Game 6 began. "We've been able to figure it out and find our way through and scratch our way through. This is the last test. This is the last pop quiz for us that we need to pass in order to make it all worth it."