DALLAS - The Miami Heat didn't blow this one. Now they're just two wins from being crowned NBA champions.
Chris Bosh made a 16-foot, go-ahead jumper from the baseline with 39.6 seconds left and the Heat held on for an 88-86 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night for a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.
Recent history says this is a huge win for the Heat. The Game 3 winner in a tied Finals has won the championship all 11 times since the 2-3-2 format began in 1985.
Miami blew a 15-point lead in the last quarter of Game 2. The Heat already had wasted a 14-point lead in this game when they went back ahead, 81-75, with 6 minutes, 31 seconds left. They knew Dirk Nowitzki would drive Dallas' rally, but he burned them anyway for 12 straight points - six free throws, a layup, a dunk, and a tough jumper.
But after Bosh's clutch shot, Nowitzki's streak ran out. He tried passing out of a double team and threw the ball away, then hit the back iron on a jumper at the buzzer.
"This is a total win," said Dwyane Wade, who led Miami with 29 points and 11 rebounds. "You want to win the game on the defensive end of the floor and we got a stop."
The Heat go into Game 4 on Tuesday night with a chance to do what they did in 2006: win it all on Dallas' floor. They'll need to win that game and the next, on Thursday night.
Bosh, a Dallas native who had been 0-8 in his hometown, overcame a swollen left eyelid caused by a poke during the first quarter to score 18 points.
LeBron James added 17 points and nine assists. But he also had four turnovers, including a pair during the fourth quarter that helped bring Dallas back. Mario Chalmers added 12.
Udonis Haslem had only six points, but his tough defense on the final two possessions saved the Heat. When Nowitzki's final shot from the top of the key missed, Haslem swung his arms and screamed in delight.
Nowitzki finished with 34 points, but didn't get much help. Jason Terry scored 15 and Shawn Marion had 10, but both were shut out in the fourth quarter.
Dallas fell to 8-2 at home this postseason.
Heat 88 Mavs 86
Heat lead series, 2-1
Game 4: Heat at Dallas, Tuesday at 9 p.m.