MIAMI - Dirk Nowitzki scored the go-ahead layup with 3.6 seconds left as the Dallas Mavericks roared back from 15 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Miami Heat 95-93 on Thursday and level the NBA finals at one game apiece.
The German star capped the furious rally by scoring Dallas' final nine points, making his last two baskets with his non-shooting left hand, despite having a torn tendon on his middle finger. He finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Dwyane Wade had 36 points for Miami, but missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win the game. LeBron James added 20 points and eight rebounds.
"I thought defensively we really got into them," Nowitzki said of the comeback. "We pressured them full court and we scrambled defensively. We even gave up some offensive rebounds, but we kept scrambling."
Game 3 is Sunday in Dallas.
Dallas was seemingly out of the game when Miami went up 88-73 with 7:15 remaining, but the Mavs held the Heat to just one field goal from there - a 3-pointer by Mario Chalmers with 24.5 seconds that tied it just 2 seconds after Nowitzki's 3 had made it 93-90.
After a time-out, Dallas' Jason Kidd ran the clock down before getting the ball to Nowitzki, who drove into the lane, spun back to the left and made the game-winning layup.
Jason Terry, largely silent since the first half of Game 1, sparked the comeback with a couple of jumpers and finished with 16 points.
"You can just sense it in us that we weren't going to give up, we were going to be resilient," he said.
Shawn Marion added 20 points for the Mavericks, who had lost four straight finals games in Miami since taking a 2-0 lead in the 2006 series.
They were about to go down 2-0 again before Nowitzki, who insisted before the game that his injured finger wouldn't hinder him, led a rally even more impressive than the one that won Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, when the Mavs trailed Oklahoma City by 15 in the fourth quarter before pulling it out in overtime.
"We were just trying to stay solid," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Look, James and Wade, they're two of the best facilitators - ever. ... They missed a couple shots and it allowed us to keep our momentum going."
The Heat lost for the first time in 10 games at home in the playoffs and will have to win at least once in Dallas to force the series back to their court.
"No question about it," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "That's about as tough a fourth quarter as you can have. When it started to slide, it kept on going."
Miami appeared to have nothing to worry about in the second half. A 29-10 run spanning halftime showed off the Heat at their athletic best: a dunk by James, a dunk by Wade, and a long alley-oop pass from Wade to James on the fast break that turned a 51-all halftime game into a 57-52 lead.
Wade then angered the Mavs, particularly Terry, when he held his shooting follow through after his 3-pointer from the corner capped a 13-0 run and made it 88-73.
But the Heat suddenly went cold after that, holding the ball too long on possessions and forcing James and Wade to attempt long jumpers with the shot clock winding down, instead of playing to their strengths and driving into the lane.
"This is a long series, OK?" Spoelstra said. "We're not happy about what happened. But we've got an opportunity in Game 3."