Fourth quarter again looms large for Mavs

Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Mavericks to yet another comeback win in the playoffs. Dallas trailed by 4 points entering the final quarter, but closed the game on a 21-9 run to even the NBA Finals at two games apiece.

This was the sixth time this postseason that the Mavericks won a game in which they trailed entering the final quarter. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that it’s the most comeback wins of that kind by a team in a single postseason since the 1989 Pistons, who also had six en route to the NBA title.

The Heat made just three field goals in the final 9:58 of the game, and missed their last nine field goal attempts from beyond 15-or-more feet in the final 10 minutes. That is the most misses by Miami without a make from this range in the last 10 minutes of the fourth quarter/overtime this season.

Nowitzki went just 2-for-6 from the field in the fourth quarter, but made all six of his free throws to lead the Mavericks down the stretch. Dirk did miss an earlier free throw attempt in the third quarter, ending his streak of consecutive free throws made this series at 26. According to Elias, that was the longest streak in a single Finals series since Clyde Drexler made 28 straight in 1992.

One of the big story lines heading into Game 4 was the comments made by Jason Terry and how LeBron James would guard him in the fourth quarter. Terry backed up his talk and nearly outscored the Heat's Big Three by himself down the stretch. Terry had 8 points in the final quarter and didn't turn the ball over while Wade, James and Bosh combined for 9 points and five turnovers.

James finished with 8 points, the first time in his 90 career playoff games that he was held to single-digit points. His teams are now 0-7 when he scores 15 points or fewer in a postseason game. James attempted just one shot in the fourth quarter and failed to score despite playing all 12 minutes. This is just the second time he’s failed to score in the final period of any playoff game.

Dirk Nowitzki vs LeBron James

4th Quarter This Series

Dirk’s dominating performance and LeBron’s disappearing act in the fourth quarter this game continues a trend from the entire series. Nowitzki has now outscored James 44-9 in the final period, making as many field goals as James has attempted while making six times as many free throws.

Has this been the most exciting Finals ever? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is just the third NBA Finals to have three straight games decided by three points or fewer. The only others were in 1947 and 1948 -- the first two Finals series ever played.

The series is now tied at two and Game 5 in Dallas Thursday night looms large. In NBA Finals history, the Game 5 winner of a tied series goes on to win the series 73 percent of the time (19-7).