On Sunday, Dirk Nowitzki missed what would have been a game-tying shot at the buzzer in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
You didn't actually think something like that would happen two games in a row did you?
In what was basically a must-win situation for the Mavericks in Game 4, Nowitzki hit a driving lay-up with just under 15 seconds remaining to help Dallas even up their series with Miami at two games apiece with an 86-83 victory.
|Photo by: David J. Phillip|
After making his first 3 shots of the game, he missed 10 of his next 11. He went over 20 minutes without making a field goal, from the middle of the second quarter to early in the fourth. At times, he looked dead on his feet.
It wasn't until midway through the contest that ABC reported Nowitzki was sick. He was running a temperature of 102, had barely slept the night before and had skipped the morning team shootaround.
NOW all those missed shots made sense. Anyone that has watched the Mavericks with any regularity this postseason knows, Dirk and missing shots just don't go hand-in-hand. The guy has had one of the all-time great runs in postseason history going, so it took something like a virus to finally slow him down.
Too bad for the Heat it couldn't totally stop him.
Despite his poor shooting night, Nowitzki finished with a team-high 21 points. As usual, he also came up big in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points to go along with his bucket in the closing seconds that helped seal the win.
Regardless of the final outcome of this series, Dirk has officially earned the right to be called one of the greatest players in NBA history. All-time greats have a knack for putting up big numbers, which he has consistently done throughout his career. They also tend to have "defining moments" at some point or another. Well, Dirk had one tonight. He battled through adversity and came out on top. Now all that remains is the exclamation point. A ring.
I'm not about to start betting against him now. Nor should anyone else. In case you haven't noticed, he has a tendency to be a TAD bit clutch. Ask Portland. Or Oklahoma. Or better yet, Miami.
|Photo by: Mark Humphrey|