MIAMI – For a 12:31 stretch of the second half Friday night, the Dallas Mavericks did something they don’t normally do.’
They played spectacular defense.
With 3:12 remaining in the third period, the Miami Heat were leading the Mavs, 60-51 and were seemingly on their way to pulling out an improbable victory. But with 3:03 left in the game, the Mavs had flipped the script on the Heat and were suddenly comfortably ahead 88-62.
Indeed, a massive 37-2 run by the Mavs ran the Heat out of American Airlines Arena and was the impetus Dallas used to collect an impressive come-from-behind 93-72 victory.
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In the aftermath, the talk was about that eye-popping defense the Mavs played when they took control of the game in the second half. Center Tyson Chandler said: "That’s definitely not typical Mavs basketball.
"I thought we played excellent defense throughout the entire game, it was just a matter of making shots. We try to tell the guys we’re a great shooting team and eventually those shots are going to fall, just hang in there and continue to work on defense and it’ll keep us in the game.’’
Overall, the Mavs, who are now a perfect 12-0 on the road against Eastern Conference teams, held Miami to 33 percent shooting. They also forced the Heat to miss 20 of the 29 shots they attempted from 3-point range.
"I thought defensively we were solid in the second half,’’ said Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting. "Whether it was our activity – they had some open looks, so it’s not like we were amazing defensively.
"But I thought we made them work, we rebounded the ball better and that obviously sets us up offensively to play better, to move the ball, to run the ball better. We get in trouble some offensively when we have to take the ball out (of the basket) and walk it up – that’s not really our style. Then they load up on defense on us.’’
Friday, it was the Mavs who player role reversal and loaded up on the Heat defensively. They primarily shackled Dallas native Chris Bosh, holding him to just 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting.
"We defended well the whole game,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "We had a few errors, but the guys were really into it and making an even greater emphasis on defense in recent games and this morning in shootaround.
"It’s sometimes hard when the ball’s not going into the basket to keep your energy up on defense. But the guys just kept encouraging each other, kept saying, ‘Hey, we’re close,’ and finally we got a group that had some chemistry.’’