Houston Playing with the desperation of a team facing elimination, even though they weren't, the Dallas Mavericks clawed their way back into their first-round series against the Houston Rockets on Thursday night.
It took a rejuvenated Dirk Nowitzki to save them in a 106-102 victory.
Nowitzki emerged from a two-game slump to score 28 points and keyed a 17-0 run in the fourth quarter that deflated the Rockets in Game 3.
Michael Finley scored 20 points, Jerry Stackhouse added 18, and Josh Howard had five big points in the late comeback, ending Houston's nine-game win streak and finally giving the Mavericks confidence that they can keep up with the surging Rockets. Dallas has a chance to even the Western Conference series in Game 4 Saturday night. Game 5 is Monday night in Dallas.
Trailing 88-80 early in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks seemed on their way to a 3-0 series deficit -- a hole no NBA team ever has rallied from.
But Finley hit a jumper, Nowitzki dunked on a fast break, Finley buried another three, and Jason Terry made a couple of free throws to retake the lead midway through the quarter.