dirk nowitzki

Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki in game 4 of 2011 NBA finals against Miami

*Dirk Nowitzki fought through a sinus infection and everything else that ailed him and his team to power a 21-9 run over the final 10:12, lifting the Dallas Mavericks to a memorable 86-83 victory over the Miami Heat Tuesday night.

In the final period, Nowitzki scored 10 of his 21 points – including a driving right-handed layup that spun in off the backboard with 14.4 seconds left – and grabbed five of his 11 rebounds as Dallas pulled off its second stunning finish this series.

“Just battle it out,” Nowitzki said, sniffing throughout his postgame interview with his warm-up jacket zipped all the way up, still in his uniform instead of changing into street clothes like the NBA prefers. “This is the finals. You have to go out there and compete and try your best for your team. So that’s what I did.”

The Mavs avoided going down 3-1, a deficit no team has ever overcome in the finals, and guaranteed the series will return to Miami for a Game 6 on Sunday night.

Game 5 is Thursday night in Dallas, and Nowitzki says he’ll be ready.

“There’s no long term,” Nowitzki said. “I’ll be all right on Thursday. … Hopefully I’ll get some sleep tonight, take some meds and be ready to go on Thursday.”