Mavs good, mad for 'must' Game 6


Miami -- If they were mad before Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks should be really, really mad for Game 6 tonight in Dallas.

That's cussing, conspiracy-advancing, victory-guaranteeing mad.

The Mavericks, already miffed at Jerry Stackhouse's suspension for Game 5, lost 101-100 in overtime to the Miami Heat on Sunday night and then lost their cool in the aftermath of some controversial calls.

"The referees are trying to cheat us out of this," said forward Josh Howard.

"What are we supposed to do?" Darrell Armstrong said. "The NBA. Wow, fantastic."

The Mavericks, who now trail 3-2 in the series, fumed about the disparity in free throws, 49 for the Heat to 25 for Dallas. Heat guard Dwyane Wade matched the Mavericks' team total with 25 attempts and set a Finals record by making 21.

Two calls most angered the Mavs: a foul on Dirk Nowitzki near the end of the game and a disputed timeout charged to Howard.

With the Mavericks leading 100-99 and less than five seconds to go, Wade drove to his right with three defenders surrounding him. Wade appeared to stumble forward at some slight contact on his hip from Nowitzki.

"Dwyane pushed off like three guys to get to the basket and I saw him come running at me," Nowitzki said. "I kind of thought I went out of the way [to avoid Wade] and they gave him the call."

Wade made the first free throw to tie the game. That's when officials charged Howard for his team's final timeout, meaning Dallas wouldn't get a chance to throw in from midcourt after the second attempt.

Lead official Joe Crawford offered an explanation through a pool reporter. "Josh Howard goes to [official] Joe DeRosa and not only once but twice asks for a timeout," Crawford said. "Forced to call it, simple as that."

Howard, who also called a controversial timeout while at Wake Forest in 2002 that aided a Maryland victory, said he was asking coach Avery Johnson if he wanted a timeout after Wade's second shot.

Wade made the second free throw and Devin Harris got off a rushed shot from midcourt that missed. Soon after, the Mavericks expressed their anger.

Nowitzki kicked the ball into the stands as he walked off the court.

Johnson, who had publicly raged against the Stackhouse suspension for two days, parried with and then mocked a Dallas reporter who asked him about the foul call on Wade's drive.

Howard, meanwhile, angrily shouted at a reporter who continued to question him about the timeout in the locker room. He ended the short interview by telling reporters: "I will give all of you a shout out when we win it."

Nearby, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stewed in a corner while a handful of reporters waited for him to talk. Cuban said he believed Wade committed a backcourt violation when he took the inbounds pass before his final drive.

The Mavericks will try to rally for Game 6 tonight.

"The whole world is against us," Howard said. "We've got to go out and win it for the fans of Dallas."

Michael Cunningham writes for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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