MIAMI — There is a dubious list of NBA greats who, despite posting all kinds of eye-popping numbers and collecting every individual accolade imaginable, never earned the title that mattered most: champion.
Until Sunday night, Dirk Nowitzki had joined the likes of Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing and others on that list.
But the German-born superstar emphatically erased his name from that group, scoring 10 in the fourth quarter to lift the Mavericks to a 105-95 win over the Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals that captured the franchise's first championship.
"All these All-Star Games and all those things are nice," said Nowitzki, 32, the series' MVP, "but when you get to a certain age, you've basically seen it all, and all you play for is for that ring."
Meanwhile, the Heat's LeBron James remains on the infamous list, falling short of his first title even though he bolted Cleveland for Miami to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
In a continuing theme, the Mavs had another impressive finish while again taking advantage of the Heat's inability to close.
Nowitzki's strong finish gave him a hard-earned 21 points after a 3-for-17 shooting start from the field. Jason Terry kept the Mavs going throughout, scoring 27 off the bench.
In this most memorable postseason, the Mavs had to overcome a much-hyped Lakers team, a feisty Oklahoma City squad and a Heat team that garnered White House-level media attention.
"The whole world was telling us we were the one-and-done boys and we were gonna get knocked out in the first round," owner Mark Cuban said afterward. "This team has so much heart. So much determination."
The Mavs needed it in this scratch-and-claw series.
The average margin of victory in the series' first five games was 4.8 points, and Game 6 didn't fall short of expectations.
With nine lead changes, a bench-clearing near-brawl and big shot after big shot, it felt every bit like a battle of the NBA's last two teams standing.
Despite the close nature of the games, the final three went to the Mavs, making the series reminiscent of the 2006 Finals in which the Heat rebounded from an 0-2 hole to win four straight and celebrate its title on the Mavs' home floor.
This time, the retooled Mavs would not let up.
The fourth quarter was again owned by Dallas. For the Heat, it was a quarter that will be remembered for inexplicable turnovers (Wade dribbling the ball off his foot) and ugly misses (James missing the rim on a running shot). And with Nowitzki heating up, James was limited to seven points in the quarter and Wade to four.
In the second quarter, the Heat had responded.
When the Mavs' DeShawn Stevenson pushed the lead to 12 with a pair of 3-pointers with 9:42 left, the Heat went on a 14-0 run to go ahead 42-40.
Then came an eruption of a different sort. After the Heat's go-ahead basket, former Florida standout Udonis Haslem exchanged words with several Mavs, resulting in a shove from Stevenson and a bench-clearing skirmish. Three technical fouls were assessed.
Back and forth it went, with the Mavs leading 53-51 at halftime. Terry's 19 first-half points were essential.
With Nowitzki struggling, the Mavs would not have been nearly as competitive without Terry's contributions. Nowitzki was 1-for-12 in the first half for just three points, missing from inside and outside.
Nowitzki continued his cold shooting into the third quarter, but he hit a pair of timely shots to help the Mavs seize momentum. That resulted in a nine-point lead entering the fourth quarter, at which point Dallas wasn't about to loosen its grip on the series.
"Dirk Nowitzki," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said, "is simply one of the all-time greats."
Mavericks 105, Heat 95
DALLAS (105): Marion 4-10 4-6 12, Nowitzki 9-27 2-2 21, Chandler 2-4 1-2 5, Barea 7-12 0-0 15, Kidd 2-4 3-4 9, Cardinal 1-1 0-0 3, Terry 11-16 2-4 27, Mahinmi 2-3 0-0 4, Stevenson 3-5 0-0 9. Totals 41-82 12-18 105.
MIAMI (95): James 9-15 1-4 21, Bosh 7-9 5-7 19, Anthony 0-2 0-0 0, Chalmers 5-12 6-9 18, Wade 6-16 5-7 17, Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Haslem 4-9 3-4 11, Howard 0-1 0-2 0, House 3-7 0-0 9. Totals 34-72 20-33 95.
3-Point Goals—Dallas 11-26 (Stevenson 3-5, Terry 3-7, Kidd 2-3, Cardinal 1-1, Barea 1-3, Nowitzki 1-7), Miami 7-23 (House 3-6, James 2-5, Chalmers 2-7, Miller 0-1, Wade 0-4). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Dallas 47 (Nowitzki 11), Miami 51 (Haslem 9). Assists—Dallas 19 (Kidd 8), Miami 20 (Chalmers 7). Total Fouls—Dallas 24, Miami 14. Technicals—Stevenson, Chalmers, Haslem, Wade. A—20,003 (19,600).
One rises, one falls in fourth quarter
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki often stepped up in the fourth quarter. As for Heat forward LeBron James? Not so much.
Game 1 Nowitzki2-46-610 James2-41-15
Game 2 Nowitzki4-70-09 James0-42-22
Game 3 Nowitzki4-76-615 James1-30-02
Game 4 Nowitzki2-66-610 James0-10-00
Game 5 Nowitzki1-36-68 James1-40-02
Game 6 Nowitzki5-80-010 James3-50-07