Dwyane Wade knows in the NBA Finals, collapses can carry over.
He was in the Dirk Nowitzki role 5 years ago, summoning a desperate charge to rescue a team that was down but refused to go out. A furious fourth-quarter rally saved the Heat from a 3-0 deficit and they never looked back, winning four straight to beat Dallas for the chmapionship.
The finals hadn't seen anything like that again until Thursday night, and this time Wade was on the wrong end of it. The Heat were almost halfway to another championship celebration when the game suddenly swung in the Mavericks' favor.
"I understand once you don't close a team down, they get confidence and life," Wade said. "This is a big challenge for us. We're going to have to live up to the challenge, the hole we dug for ourselves, and we're going to see what we're made of as a team."
Game 3 is tomorrow night in Dallas, giving the Heat 2 days to think about their 7 bad minutes. They made only one field goal after taking a 15-point lead, allowing the Mavericks to pull out a 95-93 victory on Nowitzki's layup with 3.6 seconds left.
"We're going to approach the next one like it's our last. You cannot get a split and get a huge emotional win in Game 2 and then go home and lose Game 3," Nowitzki said. "As far as I'm concerned, the next one is the biggest game of all."
Nowitzki, one of two holdovers from that 2006 Dallas team, had to live with questions about the collapse ever since, overshadowing an MVP award and his other accomplishments. But he and his teammates are becoming known for playing from behind.
The Mavericks wiped out deficits in Game 1 against the Lakers and Game 4 against Oklahoma City in the previous two rounds, and didn't lose a game in either series after those games. The Mavs have come back from at least 15 points down three times this postseason.
"I don't know if confidence is the right word," Mavs guard Jason Kidd said. "We just don't break."
* Shaquille O'Neal changed from his gray T-shirt and sweatpants into a three-piece suit, then walked by some of the souvenirs he accrued during his NBA days for the final time as an active player. It took him 19 years to collect those memories.
"It's time for what's next," O'Neal, 39, said after making his retirement official at a news conference in Windermere, Fla., after saying on Twitter 2 days before that he would retire. "Never thought this day would come," O'Neal said. "Father Time has finally caught up with Shaquille O'Neal."
* Donnie Walsh will not return as president of the Knicks. The team announced in a statement that Walsh and Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan mutually agreed that Walsh will not return when his contract expires at the end of June. *