By Simon Evans
MIAMI (Reuters) - Not for the first time this season, the Miami Heat have been accused of celebrating too soon -- this time with NBA Finals rivals the Dallas Mavericks saying premature jubilation inspired their Game Two comeback win.
The Mavs rallied from a 15-point deficit to win 95-93 and level the best-of-seven series at 1-1 ahead of the upcoming three games in Dallas.
With seven minutes remaining, Dwyane Wade sunk a three pointer to stretch Miami's lead to its biggest margin of the night and he milked the moment with LeBron James in front of the Mavericks bench as a timeout was called.
"He celebrated in front of our bench and I think it angered a lot of us," Dallas center Tyson Chandler told reporters.
"We came out there and we responded. It is upsetting when you are out there playing hard and someone celebrates right in front of your bench. We just wanted to come out and respond to it, continue to play and walk them down," he said.
The Heat have made a habit of celebrating recently and were criticized for overplaying the signing of James and Chris Bosh with a party for the fans before the season even began.
Miami also upset some with their celebrations after the Eastern Conference playoffs series win at Boston, which some said was over-the-top, given they were still some way from the title.
But as for Thursday's latest incident, Wade said there was nothing out of the ordinary about how the Heat reacted to his three-pointer.
"Every team in the league, when they go on a run they do something. Whether it's a signal or a chest bump, it's part of the game of basketball," he said
"A celebration is confetti, champagne bottles. There was no celebration. It was a shot made going into a timeout."
Wade, however, conceded the reaction may have had an influence on Dallas but insisted it did not show any complacency on the part of the Heat.
"It pumped them up? They won the game, obviously it did something, that's not the first time and it won't be the last if we do a great play, that we do something with our team mates.
"Don't make nothing out of that celebration. It had nothing to with the outcome of the game for us," he said.
Mavericks guard Jason Terry said that it certainly was a defining moment for his team.
"Right at that moment, it was a turning point in the game. Obviously we come out of that timeout, and if we don't score, then we're pretty much dead," he said.
"We looked at each guy in the huddle to a man. Me, I, specifically looked at Dirk (Nowitzki) and said, 'there's no way we're going out like this.'
"There is too much time left in this game and for us to go out in a blowout-type fashion with them dunking on us, shooting threes on us, it would have been disheartening.
"We continued to keep faith in ourselves. We went out and grinded it out and got it done."
(Editing by John O'Brien; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)