DALLAS – Crunch time. Here we go. Tie game, 1:16 left in Game 3 of the NBA finals.
Dwyane or Dirk? Who ya got?
Dwyane Wade just gave Miami an 86-84 lead with a jumper from near the top of the key. Dallas fans have seen this before, of course.
Now Dirk Nowitzki answers, a pullup to tie the game again.
In all, 41 fouls have been called so far. Of those, 27 have been on Miami.
Mario Chalmers, ladies and gentlemen.
Must be a title at stake or something.
Chalmers was the hero of Kansas' win over Memphis in the 2008 NCAA championship game, hitting that 3-pointer to send the game to overtime. He also was nearly the star of Game 2 for Miami, tying that game with a 3-pointer with 24.5 seconds left before Dirk Nowitzki won it on Dallas' final possession.
Tonight, he's been a thorn to the Mavs all night.
Chalmers just hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game, from the left wing with 7:18 left, and the Heat lead 79-72 — a three-possession cushion in a game that's been nip and tuck for the last half-hour or so.
No matter what happens tonight, the Heat can't blame it on 'Rio, that's for sure.
There are times when trying for the spectacular has hurt the Miami Heat this season.
One-possession game, less than 9 minutes left, Game 3 of the NBA finals ... well, that might not be the best time to try something that would lead every sportscast in the country.
LeBron James threw a lob to Dwyane Wade, who tried to catch the ball and lay it in while rotating 360 degrees in the air. The jump worked. The shot missed.
The Heat caught a break when Dallas didn't score in transition going the other way, but it's those moments that might come back to hurt Miami down the stretch.
As for the mood here with 8:48 left, Miami up 74-72, you could say it's tense. Very tense. This place wants to roar, but Miami is doing just enough to keep them subdued — somewhat, anyway.
Get ready for a wild ending.
We're through three quarters in Dallas, with nothing decided.
Miami 67, Dallas 64.
Dwyane Wade has 22 points, LeBron James 15 and Chris Bosh 11 for Miami. For Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki is leading the way with 19, Jason Terry has 15 and Shawn Marion has 10.
One run might be the difference now. And which superstar stands up tallest in the next 12 minutes?
Does Dirk lead Dallas again?
Does LeBron, who's been relatively quiet tonight, get it rolling?
Does D-Wade, who led that 2006 finals charge, doom Dallas again?
This much is clear: Neither team can afford much of a stagnant period now. Can't count on two momentum swings in the fourth quarter of a finals game.
Dirk Nowitzki got going, and so did the Dallas crowd.
And Game 3 of the NBA finals looks like it'll go down to the wire.
Tied at 57 now, 4 minutes to go in the third, after Miami held a 14-point lead in the second quarter. Dallas is starting to swarm defensively, getting in every Miami passing line.
Meanwhile, the Heat have to be getting mildly annoyed with the foul situation. They've been called for 20 fouls and Dallas was in the bonus midway through the third quarter. The Mavericks only have been whistled for 10 fouls.
Nowitzki is up to 19 points for the Mavs.
Is Dirk hurt?
First it was Dirk Nowitzki's ruptured left-middle-finger tendon in Game 1, which clearly didn't bother him much — if at all — in Game 2. Now he seems to be flexing his right wrist a lot after apparently banging it on the rim earlier in this third quarter.
He's still out there, so it's almost certainly not anything major.
But a little injury here, little injury there, and you can see how the Mavericks' hopes in this series would fade if that trend continued.
Nowitzki only has 12 so far, which has to please Miami.
And the Mavs are within 55-48 with 7:29 left in the third. If Dirk gets going, his wrist, finger and anything else ailing him will feel better fast.
In the second half of Game 3, the Miami Heat might have a Big 3 again.
Chris Bosh hit two quick field goals in the second half, helping the Heat push their lead to 53-42 — in his hometown of Dallas, no less, and likely giving him a whole heap of new confidence.
Bosh was 2 for 9 in the first half, and for the series, that made him a putrid 11 of 43.
But he hit a 17-footer to open the second half, then got loose for a layup after a nifty pass from Dwyane Wade.
The Mavs called time-out.
And this building is church quiet. Danger time for the Mavs might have arrived.
The comeback kings were doing it again to end the first half of Game 3 of the NBA finals.
On the cusp of getting blown out of their own building, the Dallas Mavericks turned what was a 14-point deficit to the Miami Heat into something far more manageable. Dallas scored eight straight points in one stretch, then headed into the locker room down 47-42 to the Eastern Conference champions at halftime.
Dwyane Wade leads Miami with 19 points. LeBron James has 10 for the Heat. For the Mavericks, Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki each have 10.
The Mavs got a gift from Wade with 3.4 seconds left in the half, when he essentially tackled Jason Kidd on a long jumper attempt with 1 second left on the shot clock.
Now, this is a long way from over. Dallas picked up some momentum late in the second quarter. So don't celebrate, Heat fans. Don't fret, Mavs fans. Dallas surely has enough firepower to turn this one around after halftime.
Dallas is shooting 39 percent. Miami isn't much better, 42 percent. And the Mavs hold edges in both fast-break (12-8) and bench (13-8) scoring.
See you in the third quarter.
Offensive rebounding and turnovers are simply beating Dallas right now.
Heat lead the Mavs 43-31 with 3:25 left in the half, holding Dallas without a second-chance point so far and having turned seven turnovers into 16 points — an unbelievably efficient rate.
We've played eight minutes of the second quarter. Dallas has only nine points in the period.
That won't get it done, not on this night.
Fouls might be a thing to watch for Miami: Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller, two bench mainstays, each have two so far. But Dwyane Wade just knocked the ball from Jason Terry and drove in for a dunk, giving him 17 points on 8 for 12 shooting.
Now, we know Dallas can come back from just about any deficit.
But this isn't what the Mavs wanted in Game 3.
So much for that notion that the way Game 2 ended would give Dallas a big boost heading into tonight. The Mavs started 5 for 7 from the field. They made 7 of their next 19 shots, and the Heat are out to a 34-26 lead with 8:47 left in the second quarter.
The Mavs have been outscored by eight with Jason Terry on the floor and are not having much luck breaking down Miami's defensive rotations. Very little has been open for Dallas since the early going.
Backup big man Ian Mahinmi is getting minutes for Dallas with Brendan Haywood out with right hip problems. Mahinmi has three fouls. He hasn't even played six minutes.
We're through one quarter of Game 3: Miami leads 29-22.
LeBron James announced his presence with a dunk late in the quarter, followed by a drive where he split two defenders and drew a foul — rare for him in this series — with 8.1 seconds left. James had shot only six free throws in the first two games of the finals.
And Mario Chalmers capped the quarter with a 3-pointer after a Dallas turnover. Want to know what the American Airlines Center sounded like in that moment? Take a balloon, inflate it, then let the air out. Sort of like that.
Dallas is doing what Dallas is prone to do, play a lot of people early, get everyone involved in the flow of the game. Remember, the Mavs were dealing with nerves too, and controlling them was the bulk of what Rick Carlisle and Tyson Chandler were talking about pregame.
Mavs had four turnovers in the first, Heat only one. Never a good trend for Dallas.
Dwyane Wade is picking up where he left off in the 2006 finals.
Wade has eight quick points as the Heat lead the Mavericks 22-19 with 2:25 left in Game 3 of the title series. Of course, he was the MVP when Miami won its lone title in Dallas in 2006.
Dallas is starting to overplay Wade late in possessions, trying desperately to keep the ball out of his hands. And it's a safe bet Jason Kidd won't be guarding Wade all night, either.
And a Chris Bosh update: He's fine. Got his eye rinsed after getting poked by Kidd.
For Dallas, Kidd has five points and Shawn Marion four. The building, while still loud, isn't anything like it was a few minutes ago. So Miami seems to have weathered the early Dallas storm.
Big problem for the Heat early: Chris Bosh is hurt.
Bosh got hit in the face and spent about a minute on the court, only getting up after play was stopped with 7:26 left in the first quarter.
DeShawn Stevenson hit a 3-pointer with the Mavs taking advantage of a 5-on-4 break, with Bosh still prone on the court. Stevenson's hit gave Dallas a quick 14-9 lead.
Dallas is getting everything it wants in the early going.
And that vow from LeBron James to be more aggressive early tonight? He hasn't taken a shot in the first 4:34 of the game.
Bosh looks OK, but we'll keep an eye on things.
Welcome to Game 7 of the NBA finals.
Wait. It's only Game 3?
Sure seems like more than the 2-1 lead in the series is at stake tonight, when the Miami Heat visit the Dallas Mavericks because of the apparent rule that one team cannot be in the NBA finals without the other. There's about a half-dozen different stats kicking around, saying that there's no way the loser of this game will rally to win the title.
Not surprisingly, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is not looking at tonight's game in those terms.
"To simplify it for all of you, the game is not played in a statistical world," Spoelstra was saying about 90 minutes before tipoff. "It is played between those four lines and 94 feet. Whoever plays the best and more consistent to their identity likely has the best chance to win."
And that'll hold true in Game 4, Game 5, and maybe Game 6 and Game 7 as well.
The Heat say they want to get to the foul line more tonight, especially LeBron James, who has taken only six free throws in the first two games of these finals. He calls that unacceptable.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle knows what's coming.
"From everything that we're hearing, Miami is going to be in a very strong attack mode, looking to get to the free-throw line more," Carlisle said. "And so, look, we're going to have to be down in the stance containing them and attacking at both ends ourselves. They're not a team you beat by playing any kind of a passive game. We'll have to be ready, and I'm sure they will be, too."
One hit already for Dallas: Brendan Haywood is out tonight.
So here we go. Tipoff is shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern. And there's about 20,000 fans wearing blue shirts filling in, except for one woman who was shown on the video screen a little while ago refusing to put hers on.
"Go Heat," she shouted.
They booed her. Those 2006 finals, nah, they haven't been forgotten in Big D quite yet.