- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

MIAMI — Dwyane Wade hit a pair of free throws with 1.9 seconds left in overtime last night to give the Miami Heat a 101-100 victory against theDallas Mavericks and a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals.

Wade led all scorers with 43 points, including a finals-record 21 free throws, in his second 40-point game of the series. Shaquille O’Neal added 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Jason Terry led Dallas with 35 points, while Josh Howard added 25.

Game 6 is tomorrow in Dallas. If necessary, Game 7 would be Thursday, also in Dallas.

The overtime included five lead changes. Dallas led 100-99 when Dirk Nowitzki hit a short jumper over two defenders with 9.1 seconds left.

In the 24 previous times the finals have been tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has won the title 18 times.

The Mavericks played without top reserve Jerry Stackhouse. Averaging 13.8 points a game in the playoffs, Stackhouse was suspended Saturday for his flagrant foul on O’Neal midway through the third quarter of Miami’s Game 4 rout here.

Dallas wanted to start strong, hoping to wipe away the memory of its poor second half performance in Game 4, specifically its finals record-low seven points in the fourth quarter.

But what the Mavericks wanted most was for Nowitzki (20 points) and Josh Howard — a combined 3-for-22 from the field on Thursday — to get in the flow of the offense.

A good start by Dallas produced an 11-5 lead, and it appeared coach Avery Johnson’s decision to move his team from Miami — and South Beach — to the more sedated Fort Lauderdale was paying off.

Miami responded, though, with a 10-0 run — capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from James Posey and Jason Williams — and held a 24-21 edge at the end of the first quarter.

Dallas regained control in the second quarter, part of a showcase staring Terry and Howard.

Terry, who scored 32 points in the Mavericks’ Game 1 win, had not surpassed 17 points since then, while combining to make just 3 of 14 3-pointers. Howard had just three points in Game 4, on 1-for-8 shooting.

Last night was different.

Of the Mavericks’ 30 second-quarter points, Terry and Howard were responsible for all but three of them. A Terry 3-pointer gave Dallas a 43-38 lead, and Dallas bounced back from an 0-for-8 start in the quarter to make seven of its next eight shots. Howard, who had strained a hamstring earlier in the quarter, sank a 14-footer to push the Mavericks’ lead to 45-38. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

It was all part of a 15-5 Dallas run with just less than four minutes remaining in the half. Dallas led 51-43 at halftime.

Wade, meanwhile, struggled in the first half (3-for-13 shooting) and resembled little the player who entered Game 5 leading all scorers at 32.3 points a game. Of his 13 points in the first half, seven came on free throws.

But he responded after halftime, helping the Heat back into contention. Wade scored nine points in the third quarter as Miami outscored Dallas 27-20 and trailed by one entering the fourth.

With the game close late in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks resorted to the infamous Hack-a-Shaq strategy — and it worked.

When O’Neal missed a pair of free throws, Howard gave the Mavericks an 88-84 lead on his own pair with just more than two minutes to play.

But Wade answered on the Heat’s next two possessions, converting a three-point play and following that with a turnaround jumper over a helpless Devin Harris for an 89-88 Heat lead with 1:40 left.

Nowitzki made one of two free throws to tie it, and he and Wade traded baskets until the score was 91-91.

Out of a timeout, Nowitzki drew a double team and found center Erick Dampier wide open in the lane. Dampier scored an easy layup for a 93-91 Dallas lead. Wade answered with a tying bank shot and Terry missed a would-be buzzer-beating midrange jumper as regulation expired.

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