DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks pulled off another stunning comeback Tuesday, tying the NBA Finals at two games each.
And this time, Nowitzki did it while battling the flu.
Nowitzki shook off three poor quarters to score 10 of his 21 in the final period as the Mavs outscored the Heat 21-9 over the final 10:12 for an 86-83 victory in a memorable Game 4.
The Mavs avoided going down 3-1, a deficit no team has ever overcome in the Finals, and guaranteed the series will return to Miami for Game 6 on Sunday night.
Dwyane Wade, who scored 32 for the Heat, fumbled an inbounds pass with 6.7 seconds left. He knocked the ball back to Mike Miller for a potential tying 3-pointer, but it wasn't close to hitting the rim.
Chris Bosh scored 16 and Wade added 13 as the Heat grabbed a 47-45 halftime lead.
Mario Chalmers gave the Heat the lead by making a runner in the lane with 29 seconds left, capping a 7-2 spurt over the final 1:47 of the half.
Seeking a 3-1 lead, the Heat was getting by with little from LeBron James, who had four points at halftime.
DeShawn Stevenson, coming off the bench after a lineup change, scored 11 for the Mavs, who got nine from Jason Terry and eight from Nowitzki.
Game 4 shaped up as another close one after the past two games were decided by two points, the first time that happened in the Finals since 1998.
Bosh struggled for most of the first three games before hitting the go-ahead jumper with 39 seconds left in Game 3. He got going quickly in this one.
Soon after local product Kelly Clarkson — dressed like most fans in Mavs royal blue — sang the national anthem, Nowitzki made the game's first three baskets to really get the crowd into it. But Bosh answered with two jumpers and a follow shot to quickly get the Heat even.
It was tied at 12 before Terry scored seven straight for the Mavs for a 19-16 lead. He needed a big game to back up some big words.
Shut out by James in the fourth quarters of Games 1 and 3, Terry questioned whether James "can defend me like that for seven games."
"I'm going to tell you this: We will be there in Game 4," Terry said Monday. "I'm ready for the challenge."
So was the Heat, which tied it at 21 after one quarter then opened the second with consecutive baskets by Bosh and a 3-pointer by Miller for a seven-point lead. But the Mavs, who have been fighting from behind all series, refused to fall any further behind.
Stevenson's first of three 3-pointers in the half opened a 14-6 run that gave the Mavs a 38-34 lead on a layup by Shawn Marion, who benefited from the lineup change by getting some extra rest for his defense against James.
With J.J. Barea replacing Stevenson at shooting guard, Stevenson came off the bench to spell Marion at small forward. But Barea, who came into the game shooting 5-of-23 in the Finals, continued to struggle with his shot, including one point-blank miss on a layup attempt.
The Mavs welcomed back reserve center Brendan Haywood after he missed Game 2 with a right hip injury.