DALLAS, Texas, June 6 – Chris Bosh scored a tie-breaking jump shot with 39.6 seconds left as the Miami Heat held on for a 88-86 win over the Dallas Mavericks in game three of the NBA finals.
Dwyane Wade finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds, LeBron James scored 17 points, and Mario Chalmers came off the bench to score 12 for the Heat who took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"I have confidence in my shot and my teammates have confidence in me too," said Bosh. "I just have to let it go."
Miami, who at one stage led by 14 points in the first half, had to toil for their victory as the Mavericks rallied for the second dramatic finish in a row.
Wade got the ball in the final minute and was able to run the clock down before passing to Bosh who made the 16 foot jumper with just 39 second remaining in front of a sellout crowd of 20,340 at the American Airlines Center arena.
Game four is on Tuesday in Dallas.
Bosh took a finger in the eye from Jason Kidd in the first quarter but said after the game that he was OK.
"We’ll spit on it and put a Band-Aid on it and patch it up later," said Bosh who is the Toronto Raptors all-time leading scorer.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 34 points for the Mavericks, who just fell short of pulling off another stunning come-from-behind victory.
"We had our opportunities we just weren’t good enough," Nowitzki said. "Basketball is a game of runs but we can’t go down by 15 all the time and climb back."
Dallas also fought back from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter of game two to win.
As in game two, Nowitzki had the ball in his hands in the final seconds but this time he could not get his shot to fall for the Mavericks, who suffered just their second loss at home to go with seven triumphs in the post-season.
On the other hand, the Heat managed to bounce back from a miserable loss in game two and won despite a quiet night from superstar James.
James had nine assists for the Heat, who were desperate to prevent themselves from going down two games to one with the next two games in Dallas.
"This is turning out to be an absolute series of endurance, mental and physical," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "We have found ways to make plays on both ends of the court and to grind this game out in a very enduring win."
This year’s final is a rematch of the 2006 NBA championship that Miami took in six games for its first title in franchise history. Dallas has never won the NBA crown in its 31-year existence.
Game three winners after a 1-1 split in the NBA finals have gone on to win 11-of-11 titles.
The Mavericks played without two of their key players. Caron Butler has a ruptured right tendon and has not played in the series while Brendan Haywood missed his first game with an injured right hip.
Haywood was leading the Mavericks in blocked shots with 18 in the playoffs. His spot was taken by France’s Ian Mahinmi, who scored two points in eight minutes of playing time Sunday before leaving after he got his fifth foul.
Wade scored 19 of his 29 points in a superb first half, bringing back memories of game three in the 2006 finals, when he had 42 points and 13 rebounds.
Chalmers went four-of-six from beyond the arc.
The Heat had a 14-point lead with just three minutes left in the second quarter but the Mavericks went on an 11-2 run to pull within 47-42 at half-time.
Miami took another big lead going up by 13 in the third quarter but Dallas stormed back again with a 17-3 run to take the lead 59-58 with just over three minutes left in the period.
"One of the things that hurt us tonight was we were digging out of holes all night," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "It is very difficult playing from behind all the time."
Nowitzki hit a 13-foot jump shot with 1:40 remaining to tie the game at 86-86. Nowitzki had the ball in his hands on the final play of the game for the second straight night but this time he missed a 16-foot turn-around jumper.
"Some nights you just don’t shoot it good but to sit here and belly-ache about missed shots that is not what the success of this team is about," Carlisle said.