How many times have we, over the last several years, seen Dirk Nowitzki’s fade away one-legged shot? Well tonight we saw it again several times, but no one time more important than the last shot that he took with only 5.9 seconds left in the game that gave the Dallas Mavericks the lead and eventual win over the Orlando Magic 100-98.
Coming into tonight’s game, both teams really needed the to get the win to keep in the rank and file of the playoffs, none more important to Dallas than to Orlando. With another loss for the Mavs, it would have put them closer to dropping into those last playoff spots and cringing on the brink of knocking themselves out of the playoffs.
As of today, Dallas is tied with Memphis in the 5th spot in the Western Conference but the Grizzlies have the win edge, so that puts Dallas in the 6th seed, 1 game behind the Clippers and 1 1/2 games ahead of Utah, Houston and Denver, so as you can see it’s a very important game to the Mavs.
After losing to the Heat last night, the Mavs are going to have to regroup quickly and see what they need to do to get back on track. They started fairly well last night, but just was not able to get the finish and Miami got the best of Dallas in the fourth to get the win, but not all was lost on the loss, with Dirk’s points he scored, that put him over 1000 points for the season and puts him in a three-way tie with players who have scored 1000 points for 13 years straight; the other two are Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, not bad company to be in.
Dallas was going to have their hands full as Orlando is a team that puts up an astronomical amount of three-point attempts and tonight was no different. Orlando threw up 32 three-point shots and connected on 11 of them for a 34.4% from behind the arc compared to Dallas who took 22 shots and connected on 7 for 31.8%. But at least Dallas did keep their shot attempts down a little from their average.
The Mavericks looked sluggish at the beginning of the game, but they stayed on course and even had the lead at one point. But then Orlando was able to get the long shots and drive to the lane without too much difficulty and with a little over 5 minutes left in the first quarter, when Orlando took a 17-15 lead, they finished the quarter with a 10 point, 27-17, lead and it looked like they were doomed from there. JET came into tonight’s game without his traditional headband and knee-high socks on since he had lost a fitness challenge bet to Jameer Nelson of the Magic and in doing so had to forfeit the headband and socks for the game, or at least the first part of the game. Now that’s just one thing you don’t mess with is your game mojo and that’s his mojo and he messed with it, but of course we don’t know what happened to that mojo last night since he was just 1 of 10 from the field.
Dallas tried to make a comeback of such to open the second quarter, however in the first part of the second quarter, every time Dallas made a shot and tried to erase the point spread, which at one time they were within a point at 32-31, Orlando would come in and get one back and that’s the way the second quarter played out, but Dallas was able to take the second quarter 29-28 and finish with a 55-46 spread.
Now what do you think was being discussed in the locker room at halftime? I can only imagine that there was some serious chewing and telling people that they needed to do more hustle and play the game right, don’t you think? Well maybe not to that extent, but you get my drift, and here we go for the third quarter.
Both teams came out in the third and played well, to start with and worked up to a 68-60 score when the fun began. Jason Kidd had got the ball, attempted a three, Orlando got the rebound but then Dallas got the ball on a steal, a long throw was made to Dirk, but was over him, Orlando got the ball back and was able to get the ball to Ryan Anderson for an open three to extend the Magic’s lead to 11, 71-60. Then we play back and forth with turnovers, steals, JET gets his headband and socks back on and Dallas makes a score to make it 71-62, but it wasn’t enough and Orlando gets a couple more baskets to now make it a 15 point deficit when Dallas calls a timeout with Orlando leading 77-62.
Now there is about 2:35 minutes left in the third when the rallying began and Dallas went on a 9-1 run that started with a slam by Ian Mahinmi and a couple of key turnovers by Orlando that Dallas was able to capitalize on and ended the third quarter 78-71, Orlando and all this while Dirk is on the bench.
With a couple of minutes gone in the fourth, Dirk enters the game, Orlando is up 81-75 and the first play is made by Dirk on an open basket and brings Dallas to within 4. Now over the next ensuing 9 minutes of play, there is so much excitement that one can’t write it all down, but the abridged version is this, Dallas was able to force some turnovers and make some good plays, when Dirk found Delonte West, with 1:33 left, for an open three-pointer that got Dallas within 1 point, 97-96.
Then with a little over 1 minute left, West got a rebound on a play by Orlando and then was fouled by Anderson, which sent West to the free throw line in an attempt to give Dallas their first lead since a little over 5 minutes in the first quarter. West made both free throws and now Dallas was up 98-97, when Nelson got fouled by Mahinmi under the basket and that sent Nelson to the free throw line to take the lead back. Nelson made the first free throw, but missed the second and Dallas got the rebound and took their last time out.
On the ensuing play, Dallas was able to get the ball to Dirk and with only 5.9 seconds left, took the ball, went into his one-legged fade away frame and took the shot and with using the backboard, the ball went in, Dallas now had the lead 100-98; Orlando calls time out.
The Magic got the ball and Nelson drove inside, but was unable to get a good shot, got the ball out to Hedo Turkoglu for a three, the ball was short, Anderson drove to the basket for a lay-up, the ball hit the front of the rim, Dallas got the rebound and the win.
This was playoff basketball, it was intense, it was sensational and it was great for Dallas to get the big win over a top seeded playoff contender such as the Magic. Yes, they have had their problems, but they are still a top team and for Dallas to get the advantage over them tonight, it does a lot for their morale and attitude for the remainder of the season.
Dirk led the Mavs and all scorers tonight with 28 points which was done on 9 of 18 from the field which included 2 of 3 three-point attempts. JET, coming out of his 1 of 10 slump from last night, finished with 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting from the field. Shawn Marion was 7 of 10 from the field with 15 points and 9 rebounds, West added 15 as well and Vince Carter showed he still has a few moves and added 12 points.
Nelson led the Magic with 24 points which also included 3 of 7 three-point attempts. Anderson had 21 points which also included 3 of 6 from downtown. Dwight Howard had 19 points and 14 rebounds, but was only 7 of 16 from the free throw line and Hedo Turkoglu had 12 points.
Dallas finished the night shooting 4.75% from the field, while Orlando finished shooting 44.9%, and Dallas connected on 81% of their free throws to Orlando’s 60.7%. Dallas only had 9 turnovers to Orlando’s 16, but Orlando had 47 rebounds to Dallas’ 37, so there you have it. A side note to mention, West played the entire 4th quarter, while Kidd, who went scoreless for the first time in a while, sat the entire 4th quarter and Roddy Beaubois, didn’t play at all, coach’s decision. Wonder how this will play out come playoff time?
Next Dallas goes home to get some rest and sets off to face the Clippers of Los Angeles on Monday night, which with this win, gets them that much closer to moving up another spot on the ladder and if they can get the win over “lobcity”, then that puts them right up there in one of the top 4 spots.
So with that, I will bid you a good night and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!