DALLAS - Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks have pulled off another stunning comeback, tying the NBA Finals at two games each.
And this time, Nowitzki did it while battling the flu.
Nowitzki shook off three poor quarters to score 10 of his 21 points in the final period as the Mavericks outscored the Miami Heat, 21-9, over the final 10 minutes, 12 seconds for an 86-83 victory in a memorable Game 4 Tuesday night.
The Mavs avoided going down by 3-1, a deficit no team has ever overcome in the Finals, and guaranteed the series will return to Miami for a Game 6 on Sunday night.
"We just played with incredible heart and passion," Dallas center Tyson Chandler said.
Dwyane Wade scored 32 points, but fumbled an inbounds pass with 6.7 seconds left. He knocked the ball back to Mike Miller for a potential tying three-pointer, but it wasn't even close to hitting the rim.
Chris Bosh scored 24 points for Miami, but the Heat got a stunningly unproductive game from their biggest star, LeBron James. He scored only eight points, making just 3 of 11 shots.
Nowitzki opened the game looking just fine, making his first three shots. But then he missed 10 of 11, and missed a free throw for the first time since Game 4 of the conference finals. By then, word spread of his illness.
With the game - and likely the series - on the line, Nowitzki found a way to come through with a terrific layup with 14.4 seconds left.
Hey, if he could win Game 2 with a lefthanded layup two days after tearing a tendon in the tip of his middle finger, what's a little temperature?
Owners, players talking. The NBA's owners and players will follow a long negotiating session Tuesday by heading back to the bargaining table as planned Wednesday.
"I just take it as a real positive that we're continuing to meet," commissioner David Stern said. "When you have parties like this, it's just as easy if you don't think that there's the possibility of a breakthrough to say, 'All right, let's pack it in and let's go home.' But nobody on either side wanted to go home."