Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — Game Flow
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- In recaps as short as this one, I generally try to make it a point not to focus too much on the game-winning plays or sequences; I’m a firm believer in the fact that clutch value is more or less an arbitrary construction — one that brings plenty of entertainment, no doubt, but still counts no more than the 45 (or some odd) minutes that preceded it. Dirk Nowitzki’s go-ahead bucket on Friday night qualifies as a clear exception, in a sense, although the shot made matters far less than what it means. In a playoff picture this muddled and this competitive, Dallas needed a game like this. They fought hard, even in the face of deficits. They played well enough. They kept pace with a quality opponent, and didn’t let a competitive game slip away. And finally, they caught a stroke of luck. Nowitzki has hit more than his fair share of legitimate game-winners over the course of his career, but the serendipitous bounce off the glass on this particular shot was surely a gift of the basketball gods. Dirk played the post-shot celebration like a pro, but based on the excessive awkwardness of his form and the way Nowitzki tried to draw contact, we have every reason to believe that a bank wasn’t part of his plans. It happens, and Hedo Turkoglu will likely be left shaking his head for a week. But Dallas gets a much-needed pick-me-up at a crucial time in the season; as impossible as it sounds, the Mavs are in real jeopardy of missing the playoffs. With that possibility in mind, it’s more crucial than ever that the Mavs keep their heads on straight — momentum can be a tricky thing, and its unexpected gems like this one (or more importantly, the avoidance of a hard-fought effort that ends in a slim loss) that keep the rudder straight.
- Another thought, less relevant to the game than to the Orlando Magic in general: When we make a point of saying that Orlando “lives and dies by the three,” how is that functionally different from the operation of any other team? Some live and die with their rebounding, some live and die with their turnovers, and some live and die with their post play, but why is there a perception that three-point shooting is particularly erratic?