DALLAS (AP) - Ball game. Dallas 112, Miami 103.
The Mavs left the court quickly, not taking too much of a victory lap, although their fans certainly wanted one.
The dagger came with 33.3 seconds left _ aptly? _ when Jason Terry hit a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down over LeBron James' outstretched arm for a 108-101 lead.
On to Miami we go. Game 6 on Sunday night. Where the season began with that signing party on July 9, that's where the season will end with another celebration.
Who'll be partying?
We'll know in a few days.
See you Sunday.
Jason Kidd just drilled a 3-pointer, Mavs up 105-100.
Major momentum swing about a minute ago. LeBron James drove baseline and scored to tie the game _ but was called for an offensive foul. No basket. Building roared.
Miami is going with James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem. Dallas has Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry and Kidd.
Can't hear myself think in here. It's that loud.
1:26 left. They need to seriously rethink this whole lockout thing. Game's too good right now.
Heat lead, 96-95 with 5:16 left.
High pick and rolls are getting to Dallas.
And LeBron James ... a triple-double. His seventh career in the playoffs, 15 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists so far. Of course, the Mavs' scoreboard just said JJ Barea is the player of the game.
Barea has been great, sure. Northeastern fans, stand up. He's got 17 points, 4 for 5 from 3-point range.
Dirk's up to 25. Wade has 20 for Miami.
What. A. Series.
You know who'll take over late for Dallas.
Hint: He's a German fellow.
Who'll do the takeover for Miami down the stretch?
The question entering this season is still a question now, with 9:35 left in Game 5 of the NBA finals, Dallas leading 90-85.
It seems like Miami is trying to keep Dwyane Wade and his ailing hip involved, and Wade just elevated to block a Dirk Nowitzki shot. LeBron James has 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, but isn't strapping the Miami offense to his shoulders and carrying it yet. Credit to Dallas for that, because you know James is dying to go off.
Say this for Dallas: This crowd is superb.
Three quarters complete in Dallas. Mavs 84, Heat 79.
Dwyane Wade is on the floor, but he's on one leg. Dallas is controlling tempo, though the Mavs have to be asking themselves one question: "How are we only up by five?"
Dirk Nowitzki has 21 so far, Tyson Chandler and Jason Terry each with 13 for Dallas.
LeBron James, Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh all have 15 for Miami, with Wade up to 13.
For the Mavs, Rick Carlisle has to be saying, "Keep doing what we're doing." For the Heat, Erik Spoelstra has to be saying, "Would you guys mind getting a stop or two along the way?"
Somehow, you get the sense that despite Dallas' sizzling shooting, Wade's ailing leg and a still largely un-LeBron-like performance from LeBron, this thing is going down to the end.
Dirk's heating. Dwyane's hurting.
The Miami Heat might be hanging in Game 5 by the slimmest of margins right now.
It's 73-69 Dallas, 5:59 left in the third quarter. Dirk Nowitzki is up to 21 points on 8 for 13 shooting for the Mavericks, who have cooled off _ yes, cooled off _ to a robust 61 percent from the floor. The Mavs are 8 for 12 from 3-point range.
Wade remains in the locker room, still no word on his return for the stretch run. LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers each have 13 for Miami.
Dwyane Wade isn't starting the second half of the NBA finals, presumably to get extra treatment on his bruised left hip.
Mike Miller, who started in his place, just opened the third quarter by nailing a game-tying 3-pointer.
No official updates yet on Wade's status.
By the way, at least one Mavs fan was very upset at halftime. She ordered a $4 drink from a vendor, gave him a $20 and got back a $10 bill, a $5 bill and a $1 coin in change. The coin set her OFF. It was getting huffy in here, folks.
Finals pressure. It affects everyone.
Halftime of Game 5. Dallas 60, Miami 57.
No, that's not through three quarters.
What's happening here is somewhat surprising. These finals have been all about defense. Not tonight, they haven't. A game in June has January defensive intensity, for the most part.
So we're on pace for a 120-114 game.
I say we don't get anywhere near that. (Disclaimer: I'm always wrong.) These defenses are too good. And these numbers are coming without Dirk Nowitzki going off, with Dwyane Wade having a bruised left hip, with LeBron James still in single-digits.
How did we get here?
Dallas hadn't had one 30-point quarter in these finals. The Mavs have had two tonight.
Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers have 13 for Miami, while Wade has 11. For Dallas, Nowitzki has 16 _ and the Mavs are shooting 66 percent, compared with 51 for Miami.
"The Heat have no chance guarding Dirk right now," Suns guard Steve Nash, Nowitzki's best friend, just tweeted. "I'd mix it up some and put Lebron on him. Might not matter he's that good."
That sound you may hear is Erik Spoelstra losing his mind in the Heat locker room. A 66 percent half in field-goal defense is about as unacceptable as forgetting your uniform on a road trip.
Also, we just had our first "Beat the Heat" chants of this series. It's not the first in Dallas during the playoffs, however. The Mavs fans were yelling it _ and drowned out Rick Carlisle's speech _ during the celebration of the Western Conference title.
See you in the third.
Eddie House is getting his first playing time of the NBA finals for the Heat.
Smart move for a lot of reasons.
One, everyone who's around this team can tell something is not right with James Jones, who has his back wrapped during every game, but no pronouncement of any back injury. House is an energy and speed guy, which the Heat want even more of against the Mavs.
Plus, House getting to his spots might extend the floor and help Dwyane Wade and LeBron James even more, especially since Wade is making his money going to the rim in this series.
Wade is grabbing at his left hip a lot, however. Trying to stay loose through the bruise, and adrenaline might be the only good medicine now.
Sort of the same deal so far as Game 4. Dallas is balanced, a lot of guys involved. Wade and Chris Bosh have 24 for Miami. LeBron update: Still at six points.
Miami 50, Dallas 46, 4:34 left in the half.
Dwyane Wade has a bruised left hip and will try to play through the pain.
Wade went to the locker room about a minute after getting shaken up in a collision with Dallas' Brian Cardinal during Game 5 of the NBA finals.
Wade was taken out of the game with 2:58 left in the opening quarter, about a minute after he and Cardinal collided as the 2006 NBA finals MVP was driving. He returned to the Heat bench with 8:52 left in the second quarter, walking gingerly, and went back onto the court as play resumed.
Wade had eight points for the Heat before getting shaken up.
Stay tuned: Even with him ailing, Miami's up 42-39 with 8:20 left in the first half. LeBron James has six points so far; Tyson Chandler has nine for the Mavs.
Mario Chalmers did it again.
A running 3-pointer at the buzzer of the first quarter gave the Heat a 31-30 lead after the opening period of Game 5 of the NBA finals. He hit another buzzerbeater to close the opening period in Game 3 as well. So with that, the defense-first NBA finals have been flipped upside down.
Neither team had a 30-point quarter in the first four games of these finals, so of course, both ended that streak at once.
The bigger news here is Dwyane Wade. He appears to have been banged up in a collision with Brian Cardinal and is in the locker room getting checked out. No official word yet on what's happening.
Storm weathered, again.
Dallas 23, Miami 19, 2:58 left in the first quarter. Dwyane Wade has eight so far for the Heat, who looked like they were going down by nine when Shawn Marion appeared to have a clear path to the rim. LeBron James erased his shot, starting a break that Wade finished with a quick hoop.
Mavs shooting 60 percent, with six different players having at least one field goal in the first 9 minutes. Always a good sign for teams to get lots of guys involved early.
LeBronwatch update: He has two points, meaning he needs eight more to stretch his streak of consecutive double-figures games to ... one. He does seem more aggressive, yes. It's just not translating into what most people expected _ him taking a ton of early shots.
Anyway, both teams have settled in.
Early edge: Dallas.
In terms of aggression.
In terms of poise.
In, well, just about any term you want to use.
Dallas 13, Miami 6, 7:12 left in the 1st quarter. LeBron James is 1 for 3 from the floor, the make being a runout dunk. Jason Kidd looks 28 instead of 38, controlling the game so far with five points and two steals. Dirk Nowitzki is settling in nicely, having just made a jumper after misfiring on his first two tries.
Crowd is alive, too.
Exactly the start Dallas wanted, exactly what Miami wanted to avoid.
With the teams now on the court for warmups, here's a few notes and quotes to help get you going before Game 5 of the NBA finals:
_ LeBron James does not have a double-digit scoring quarter in these finals.
_ His points (24, 20, 17, 8) and field goals (9, 8, 6, 3) have decreased in every game of this series.
_ He hasn't taken more than four free throws in any game during this series. First time that's happened over a four-game stretch all season. He's taken 14 free throws against the Mavs. Consider this: He took more than 14 in seven different games this year.
_ No team in the finals has topped 96 points since Boston beat the Lakers 103-94 in Game 2 last season.
_ Someone's going to have a happy birthday. Miami's Udonis Haslem turns 31 today, and Dallas' Peja Stojakovic turns 34. (Heat center Zydrunas Ilgauskas turned 36 on Sunday, when the Heat won Game 3.)
_ Mavs coach Rick Carlisle had a number of one-liners in his pregame media session. Noting that all the talk leading up to Game 5 has been about James, Carlisle noted that LeBron is "going to come out and he's going to impact the game. The amazing thing to me, Dwyane Wade scored 32 points, and I haven't gotten one question how I'm going to deal with him. That's what I'm shocked about." Carlisle also added that Wade "killing us is not good."
And a quick observation: Maybe the in-game arena promo here shouldn't say it's "time to gear up for the postseason" anymore. Me thinks that point has passed, given how tonight is Dallas' home finale.
Welcome to Game 5, with LeBronwatch back in effect, Dirk's illness still a talking point, and a Dallas police official asking where his SWAT team can park outside the arena.
(Absolutely true. Can't make that up.)
Tied at two games apiece, the winner tonight will hold a colossal advantage going back to Miami, and LeBron James _ he of the eight-point effort in Game 4 _ tweeted very early this morning that it's "Now or Never!!"
He says he was merely providing motivation for himself, but after Miami's shootaround practice today James added that he took notice of things the Mavericks are saying about him as well, notably DeShawn Stevenson's "checked out" line. Of course, if the Heat and Mavs need to resort to bulletin-board stuff now to get motivated, that's probably not a good sign for either club.
For Dallas, history says tonight is a must-win. Since the league went to the 2-3-2 finals format, the road team has never won both Games 6 and 7.
Dirk Nowitzki says he's feeling better, so that's a good piece of pregame news for the Mavs and the entire Dallas area, which has never talked this much about a sinus infection.
You know the drill. We'll update this once or twice per quarter. Hit us on Twitter with your questions, you might see answers here throughout the night.
Enjoy Game 5.
Follow Tim Reynolds on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds