The Comeback: As Told By Six Columnists

The Mavs pulled off another stunner last night, this time in South Beach. You all know what happened. Wade hits a corner 3 in front of the Mavs bench to go up 15 with 7 minutes to go. Celebrations ensue. Mavs finish game with a 22-5 run highlighted by suffocating defense, horrid offensive possessions for Miami and Dirk Nowitzki’s left handed layup on Chris Bosh with three seconds remaining. Mavs win. Here are some links with blurbs from various columnists that tell the whole story:

Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo!Sports.com: Nowitzki doesn’t rely on emotion to galvanize and inspire his game, but the steely detachment that comes with tens of thousands of hours of shooting, the muscle memory of the biggest shots in the biggest moments. All his life, Nowitzki was the nice guy, the big lug that would forever come close and forever be remembered as one of the Hall of Fame players without the ultimate validation of victory. Now, he had absorbed every blow from Wade and James, and he was still standing, still swinging in the final minutes. There were 24.5 seconds on the clock out of the timeout, and it ticked down until the ball found its way to Nowitzki. He was going to the rim, and going with absolute audacity.

Jeff Caplan, ESPNDallas.com: Nowitzki’s left hand gave the basketball a couple of dribbles as he galloped into the lane and homed in on his target. He outstretched his left arm and the basketball gently rolled off his fingertips with Bosh desperately flailing at him from behind and Udonis Haslem coming to help, but helpless to make a play. With 3.6 seconds left in yet another wild Mavs fourth-quarter comeback, the ball kissed glass and dropped in for his ninth consecutive point in the final 2:44. Otherwise, Nowitzki was having a forgettable night. His shot wasn’t falling again after going 7-of-18 in Game 1. He had three baskets on 10 attempts at halftime Thursday. With 7:41 left in the game he threw the ball away to Dwyane Wade, who was punishing Dallas all game, for his fifth turnover. It gave Wade two free throws and the Heat an 85-73 lead. Then Wade’s 3-pointer for an 88-73 lead with 7:14 left launched a premature Miami conga line celebration.

J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: The Miami Heat were at it again, celebrating before they had accomplished anything. There were no fireworks or smoke machines or hydraulic lifts this time. This was a much simpler, two-man production. It consisted of Dwyane Wade extending his right hand up like a swan’s neck, pausing to savor the 3-pointer he made in front of the Dallas Mavericks‘ bench that put Miami ahead by 15 points with 7:44 left in Thursday’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals.When the Mavericks called timeout and Wade finally started heading toward his own bench LeBron James joined him, the two rejoicing in the moment. Jason Terry wasn’t going to have that. He stomped forward, but he never quite reached them and, according to Terry, no words were exchanged before they all returned to their respective huddles. “I know what I wanted to say,” Terry said. Which was … ?“It’s not over.”

Ian Thomsen, CNNSI.com: I will bet you all of the money in my pocket — not much, I admit, but it’s all I’ve got — that Pat Riley felt the same acidic, clammy, bass-drum-beating-in-his-skull feelings that he felt in 1984. This is something he would rather not recall, but here it was in front of him Thursday.

The better team lost. His team was beaten. Again. In 1984, it was Larry Bird’s Celtics upsetting the Riley-coached Lakers at the end of Game 2 in Boston on a James Worthy turnover that led to an overtime-forcing layup with 18 seconds remaining, followed by the unfortunate memory of Magic Johnson dribbling out the clock in regulation. The Lakers should have been up 2-0 and they should have won the title. Instead they were positioning themselves to eventually lose Game 7 in Boston.

Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com: In the fourth quarter when the Heat were in dire trouble, James stopped orchestrating the offense on several possessions. He didn’t run the plays he and Wade had honed for months and made them so difficult to guard under pressure. He didn’t drive, as the Mavs had started to double-team him as he came off screens. James has attempted only six free throws in the two games. The fewest he’d previously had in any two-game stretch in the playoffs was 11. The performance dangerously resembled some of James’ poor finishes in Cleveland, when he stopped relying on teammates and tried to play a one-on-five game. It rarely worked then, and that old habit came back to bite him and the Heat. Pile it together with what Dallas was doing offensively, making nine of its last 11 shots, and it helped undo everything Wade had accomplished to put the Heat in such a commanding position. That’s something the Heat frankly aren’t used to. “It hurts,” James said. “It’s a ballgame now.”

Joseph Goodman,Miami Herald: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban lingered on the court for 10 minutes just to cherish the moment. He high-fived Mavericks fans. He smiled. He said things like “Whoa!” and “Wow!” over and over again to friends and to himself. Like everyone else on Thursday at AmericanAirlines Arena, Cuban was still trying to wrap his head around what happened. Unlike most everyone else, Cuban’s state of disbelief was laced with euphoria. On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum was Heat forward Chris Bosh. When asked to explain how the Heat’s lead evaporated so fantastically on Thursday, ending in a 95-93 loss, Bosh simply said, “I don’t really know what happened.”

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