DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, and the Dallas Mavericks are going back to the NBA Finals.
Nowitzki swished a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:14 left and Shawn Marion followed with a 3-point play off a steal, the pivotal plays in yet another fourth-quarter comeback, this one sending the Mavericks to a 100-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder last night that closed out the Western Conference finals in five games.
After clawing back from down 15 with 5:04 left in Game 4, the Mavericks were down by 6 with 4:37 left in this one when they rallied again, outscoring the Thunder, 14-4, the rest of the way.
Dallas has never won a championship, and neither has any of its players. Nowitzki and Jason Terry were part of the only Mavericks team to make the Finals, in 2006. They were up, 2-0, and leading late in Game 3, but lost the series to the Miami Heat in six games.
Dallas could get another crack at the Heat.
LeBron James and Miami lead the Chicago Bulls, 3-1, in the Eastern Conference finals. If the Heat win tonight, the Finals will begin Tuesday in Miami. If the Bulls win tonight, the Finals will begin a week from today in the East winner’s city.
“All I can tell everybody is, we ain’t done yet,’’ Mavs owner Mark Cuban said during the on-court trophy presentation ceremony. Seconds later, fans began chanting, “Beat the Heat,’’ drowning out coach Rick Carlisle’s on-court interview.
Nowitzki and Marion each scored 26 points, and were at their best in the fourth quarter. Nowitzki scored 9 in the final period, and Marion had 15. J.J. Barea added 14 and Terry scored 12 in a victory that set off the biggest on-court celebration in franchise history.
Russell Westbrook scored 31 points to lead the young Thunder. Kevin Durant and James Harden finished with 23 points apiece for Oklahoma City.