Deron Williams and the Dallas Mavericks looked strong early on in a bid for their fourth straight win Thursday night on the road against the Miami Heat, but the victory escaped them in the second half.
D-Will finished with nine assists and six points in the defeat. The Mavs led 53-44 at halftime but ultimately fell 99-95 in a tilt that went down to the wire.
“We should have found a way to win,” said forward Dirk Nowitzki. “Tonight is a game we needed to have, obviously, going home and playing against a tough Utah team tomorrow. We would have loved to get this game, but they played well. You’ve got to give them credit.”
No. 8 scored or assisted on the Mavs’ first eight points. He fed Nowitzki for the opening bucket and fed Seth Curry for a three before knocking down one of two free throws. D-Will fed Curry on a trey later in the quarter, but the Mavs trailed 29-22 after one.
Dallas’ best quarter was the second. The contest was tied at six when Deron re-entered midway through the period. He quickly helped put the Mavericks on top, feeding Wesley Matthews on a go-ahead 3-pointer. He later sent an assist to big man Salah Mejri, putting Dallas up four, adding more fuel to the run. In all, the Mavs closed the quarter on a 17-8 run with D-Will on the floor. The Mavs capped that run, and the first half in a big way: on consecutive threes by Nowitzki and Matthews, both assisted by No. 8.
The Heat came out of the break determined to cut down the 53-44 Dallas lead. Deron did all he could early to counter the Miami attack, driving for a layup and feeding Nowitzki and Matthews on another pair of buckets, but by the time D-Will checked out, the Heat had fought back to a 63-63 tie.
“It started there at the end of the third,” Nowitzki said. “We had a bad stretch there at the beginning of the fourth, and we had a couple of minutes where we couldn’t score. We turned the ball over, and they got in transition. They hit some threes, hit some layups, and it was a really tough stretch for us. We went from being up a couple to being down seven or eight.”
The Mavs took a 73-70 advantage into the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough on the road. The Heat had claimed an 82-75 lead by the time Deron checked in at the 9:03 mark. No. 8 buried a clutch trifecta with 3:20 to go, cutting the Miami lead to two, 87-85. He had a look at another three on the following possession, but it just missed its mark. The Heat responded consecutive 3-pointers by Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson. Dallas shaved the Miami advantage all the way down to two, but the Mavs weren’t able to fully close the gap at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“They just dominated the second half,” said head coach Rick Carlisle. “They dominated the action, they were the aggressors, and they got the ball in the basket. We had some shots, but we’ve got to do more in the second half.”