- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2011

DALLAS (AP) - For days, the Dallas Mavericks insisted nothing was wrong with the shots they were taking. They just weren’t falling.

They did in Game 5 of the NBA finals.

And now the Mavs are on the brink of their first championship.

Behind 29 points from Dirk Nowitzki, and series-best shooting performances by Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and more, the Mavericks torched the Heat 112-103 Thursday night for a 3-2 series lead.


Now this collection of veterans without a single title among them are headed to Miami needing to win one of the last two games to fly home with the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Five years after a 2-0 lead fell apart in Miami, Nowitzki refuses to celebrate until he’s actually handed that shiny gold statue.

“I really can’t enjoy (a 3-2 series lead) much,” he said, still sniffling a bit because of a sinus infection. “In the playoffs, for some reason, you’re always on the edge. You don’t sleep much. You think basketball 24/7. I can enjoy it hopefully next week when we’re on vacation.”

The Mavericks hit the Heat with an offensive assault their vaunted defense simply couldn’t stop.

It was a throwback performance to their early 2000s clubs guided by Don Nelson, when the Mavs tried to outscore everyone with little regard to defense.

Dallas posted the most points against Miami in a game, a half (60) and a quarter (30) this postseason.

The Mavs also had the best field-goal percentage (.565) and the most 3-pointers (13), and matched the most field goals (39) against the Heat in these playoffs.

And, to think, these guys had a .414 shooting percentage over the first four games of the series.

The reward for their improved aim was the comfort of playing from ahead most of the night.

Consider this difference: Dallas went from leading for a total of 35 minutes, 41 seconds over the first three games, to leading for 30:59 in this game alone, according to STATS, LLC.

“I thought in the first four games, we looked at the film, we stepped into good shots,” Nowitzki said. “For some reason, we weren’t knocking them down like we did in the first three series. If we had struggled like that in the first three series, I don’t know if we would’ve gotten here. We talked about it, keeping stepping into shots when they are there. … I thought we had big, timely shots tonight.”

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