Rebound scramble at the American Airlines Arena in Miami [EPA]

Dirk Nowitzki emerged the hero for the Dallas Mavericks in Game Two of the NBA finals series, inspiring a Mavs rally from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Hitting a crucial layup with 3.6 seconds remaining on the clock, the Mavericks levelled the series with a 95-93 win over Miami Heat, handing the Heat their first post-season loss at home.

Nowitzki scored Dallas' final nine points, making his last two baskets with his non-shooting left hand, despite having a torn tendon on his middle finger. He finished with 24 points and 11 bounds.

"What a huge swing that was," German star Nowitzki said.

"It was a huge comeback. We never gave up."

Dwyane Wade had 36 points for Miami, but missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win the game. LeBron James added 20 points and eight rebounds.

Plugging away

"In this league you have to play 'til the end," said Nowitzki.

"This is the finals. You can be down 20. You have to keep plugging. You never know what's going to happen in this league. And we kept on fighting."

Miami looked to have seized control of the game, and the series, with a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter that padded their two-point advantage into a 88-73 lead with just over seven minutes remaining.

Wade, who scored on a variety of long jump shots, running one-handers and fast breaks, scored nine points during the run, triggering a party atmosphere in South Florida.

"Seeing them celebrate like that, man, it really was disheartening for us," said Dallas guard Jason Terry, who had eight of his 16 points in the final quarter.

"Then I took another glance at the score and there was a lot of time left. And so in that huddle during a timeout we looked at each other to a man and said: 'Hey, we have one more opportunity. Let's go make a run at this.'"

Dallas embarked on a 20-2 run and Nowitzki's 25-foot three-pointer with 26 seconds left gave the Mavericks an unlikely 93-90 lead.

Momentum lost

"I don't really know what happened," said Heat forward Chris Bosh, who had just 12 points on four-of-16 shooting.

"We had everything going. We had the momentum going. 

"They took us out of our rhythm. They showed us some different looks, and we were playing against the shot clock pretty much the whole end of the fourth quarter."

Miami reserve guard Mario Chalmers nailed a three-pointer with 24 seconds left to knot the score at 93-93, setting the stage for Nowitzki's game winner.

"We said in the huddle we were up 15, that this team is very capable of coming back," Wade said. "They've proven it. They've shown it.

"We didn't have to score another point to win the game. Our defence is what we lay our heads on. We didn't play it the way we normally play. They deserved it. And we didn't."

The Heat now have to win one on the road to extend the series back to Miami and deny the Mavericks their first NBA crown.

The best-of-seven series shifts to Dallas for the next three contests, with Game Three at the American Airlines Centre on Sunday. 

Source: Agencies