|Dirk Nowitzki again took control to lead the Mavs to the brink of NBA finals history [AFP]
Dirk Nowitzki was again the star as the Dallas Mavericks took a 3-2 series lead in the NBA finals on Thursday.
Nowitzki scored 29 points and Jason Terry scored 21 to lead Dallas to a 112-103 home win over Miami Heat, putting the Mavs on the brink of their first NBA title in franchise history.
Five years after going up 2-0 on the Heat, the Mavs finally got that elusive third victory, and can wrap up their first championship in Game 6 at Miami on Sunday.
Of the 26 times the finals have been tied 2-2, the winner of game five has gone on to win the series 19 times.
This year's championship series is a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals, which Miami took in six games for their first NBA title.
"That was a big win for us, obviously," said Dirk Nowitzki.
"We didn't want to go to Miami and give them basically two shots to close us out.
"So we kept plugging there in the fourth. And now we have to go down there and basically approach Sunday's game as Game Seven. You don't want to give this great team any hope."
Dallas shot 57 percent, including an eyebrow-raising 13 of 19 from beyond the arc. Terry was three for five from long range, draining two of those bombs during the late-game run.
"All season long, ever since I've been a Maverick, I've been the guy in the fourth quarter they depended on to either make plays or make shots," said Terry.
"So I really relish that role. Regardless of what's going on throughout three quarters of the game, in the fourth quarter I know I'm depended on to come through.
"Thank God I was able to do that again tonight."
LeBron James disappeared once again in the fourth quarter, tallying only two points. The former NBA scoring champion and two-times MVP has now amassed a combined 11 points in the final quarter of the entire series.
James was blanked in the final frame of Tuesday's 86-83 Mavericks victory, and while he was more aggressive on Thursday, he had similar results.
"We as a team, we played good enough to win again," said James, who scored 17 points and had 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
"Put ourselves in position to win down the stretch.
"Guys made plays. They just made a few more than we did. That's what it came down to."
Miami star Dwyane Wade was forced to play through a hip injury but finished with a team high 23 points.
Dallas shot 56.5 percent from the floor but were outrebounded 36-26 by a Miami team that committed 16 turnovers on the way to registering consecutive losses for the first time this post-season.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said Terry took on the responsibility of team leader when the Mavericks' best player, Nowitzki, was on the bench.
"He played great, and during periods where Dirk was out of the game we were going to him and he was delivering," Carlisle aid.
"Those are tough minutes for us because it's hard when Dirk is out of the game.
"But it's the total game we've all been preaching to Jet (Terry) since the playoffs began and tonight he did a terrific job."