DALLAS, Texas, June 8- Dirk Nowitzki finished with 21 points and the Dallas reserves provided plenty of scoring support as the Mavericks rallied to beat the Miami Heat 86-83 to level the NBA finals at 2-2.
Forward Shawn Marion scored 16 points and Tyson Chandler finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Mavericks, who came back from a nine-point deficit in the fourth in another tight-scoring contest in which the lead changed hands 12 times on Tuesday.
Nowitzki, who also had 11 rebounds, had been carrying the load for the Mavericks in the series and for a change he got some help from his teammates down the stretch in front of a crowd of 20,430 at the American Airlines Center.
Nowitzki, who also had 11 rebounds, said was battling a sinus infection and fever earlier on Tuesday.
"It didn’t look good there in the fourth quarter when we were down nine, but energy and defense really picked us up," Nowitzki said. "I had some good looks there in the fourth. Our defense grinded it out."
The Mavericks’ defense swarmed Miami’s big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh holding the Heat to just five field goals in the fourth leaving the 2011 finals now a best-of-three series.
Game five is Thursday in Dallas before the series switches back to Miami for game six on Sunday.
This year’s final is a rematch of the 2006 NBA championship series that Miami took in six games for its first title in franchise history. Dallas has never won the NBA title in its 31-year history.
Jason Terry and DeShawn Stevenson came off the bench to score 17 and 11 points respectively for the Mavericks, who outscored Miami 21-9 in the final 10 minutes of the fourth quarter.
"Our team defense has really stepped up in the fourth, which we had to do because we were playing from behind," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "We’ve got a team system, and the schemes we’re using aren’t very complex. It’s just all about hard play."
Wade scored 32 points and Bosh had 24 for the Heat, who won game three in Dallas in similar contest that went down to the wire.
"Their supporting cast did a good job," Wade said of the Dallas bench.
Miami superstar James labored once again offensively, finishing with just eight points on three-of-11 shooting.
"He struggled, point blank, period," Bosh said of James.
It was a rare single digit scoring performance for James but he did have nine rebounds and seven assists.
"It is a loss and that’s why I am angry. They made one or two more plays down the stretch than we did. I will come back in game five," James said.
Chandler stole the ball and gave it to Terry who scored on a layup with 5:12 left to give the Mavericks their first lead of the fourth quarter 79-78.
This time, it was the Heat who failed to execute down the stretch as Wade missed a key free throw and then bobbled an inbounds pass from Mike Miller with Dallas up by three.
Wade was fouled with 30 seconds left and Dallas ahead 82-80. He made the first free throw but missed the second which would have tied the score.
Terry then scored Dallas’ final points by hitting two crucial free throws with just 6.7 seconds remaining.
The Heat then called a timeout and got the ball to Wade but it slipped out of his hands and headed for center court. He dove and got the ball back, but Miller’s three-point attempt to equalize at the buzzer missed the rim entirely.