Dallas' Jason Terry scored 32 points in a 90-80 victory over Miami.
DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki sputtered and struggled in his first NBA finals game, so the Dallas Mavericks hitched a ride on the Jet to claim the opener.
Jason Terry grabbed the spotlight from the three big stars in this championship series, scoring a playoff-high 32 points with a soaring grace befitting his nickname -- even though he missed an open layup that nearly erased all his achievements.
A sniffling Dwyane Wade and a brick-laying Shaquille O'Neal couldn't finish a late run, and Dallas held on to beat the Miami Heat 90-80 on Thursday night.
Both franchises' first appearance on the NBA's biggest stage contained all the jitters and mistakes you might expect. Though Terry was the Mavericks' savior, scoring 20 points in the first half and 12 in the fourth quarter, he missed a fourth-quarter layup that kick-started Miami's late run.
The Mavericks went nearly 7 minutes between fourth-quarter field goals before Jerry Stackhouse clinched it on a wobbling jumper with 1:02 to play. Dallas held the Heat to two free throws over the final 5:13, escaping with a sloppy but satisfying victory -- and just 16 points from Nowitzki, their superstar.
"We didn't win 60 games because of me," Nowitzki said. "We didn't get here because of me. ... We swing the ball to the open guy, and he was hot today."
Wade finished with 28 points for the Heat, but managed just three in the fourth quarter while feeling the effects of the sinus infection that's bugged him for a week. O'Neal had 17 points and seven rebounds -- and the three-time champion went 1-for-9 at the free throw line, leading Miami's abysmal 7-for-19 performance.