Dirk Nowitzki refused to let his team lose. Dallas trailed by 12 (97-85) with less than four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but close the game on a 15-1 run en route to a 100-98 win over the Chicago Bulls. The 12-point comeback is biggest deficit overcome in a win when trailing with less than 4:00 to play in NBA this season. Dirk sealed the deal for the Mavericks as he hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left. He was untouchable in the fourth quarter as he went 6-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range for 15 points in the fourth quarter. Dirk scored 15 of the teams 25 points. In the end, Dirk tallied a season-high (game-high) 35 points to go along with seven rebounds in 34 minutes against Chicago.
Brandan Wright recorded his first double-double of the season (fourth career) with 17 points and a career-high-tying 13 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench against Chicago. It was his first double-double since April. 1, 2011 at Philadelphia (15 points and 11 rebounds while with New Jersey).
An MRI revealed that Mavericks shooting guard O.J. Mayo has a mild sprain of the AC joint in his left shoulder. He played in the game and logged just under 42 minutes of action. Mayo went 1-of-13 from the floor. It was evident he was struggling with his shoulder as he missed his first two shots of the day, two left-handed layups. Through the pain, Mayo grinded out the game and provided an all-around effort that made up for his poor shooting performance.
For the Bulls, Nate Robinson went a perfect 7-of-7 from beyond the arc en route to a team-high-tying 25 points for Chicago. He scored Chicago’s first 11 points of the fourth quarter and finished with 15 points in the fourth. He added six assists in 32 minutes off the bench. Carlos Boozer (25 points and 11 rebounds) and Luol Deng (25 points and seven rebounds) combined for 50 points and 18 rebounds.
Really though, this is about Dirk Nowitzki.
Some notes before the quotes:
- Including the postseason, the game against the Bulls marked the 12th time in his career that Dirk made a game-winning basket in the final 10 seconds of a game (and the first since Mar. 30, 2012 at Orlando). Nowitzki, who had 33 points vs. the L.A. Clippers on 3/26, scored 30-plus points for the second time in his last three games (third time this season). He is averaging 29.7 points on 62.1 percent shooting (.455 3FG) over his last three games.
- Dirk during the homestand: 61.5 percent from the field, 44.4 percent from 3, 90 percent from the line. 24.0 points and 7.0 in six games for Dirk.
- Nowitzki went a perfect 8-for-8 from the field (2-for-2 from deep) and 2-for-2 from the line in the first half against Chicago. He led all players with 20 points in 17 first-half minutes. It was the most points he’s scored in any half this season (previous: 17 in first half at Milwaukee Mar. 12). Nowitzki scored 20-plus points in the first half for the first time since Mar. 13, 2012 vs. Washington (20 points). It was the most points he’s scored in any half since Apr. 18, 2012 vs. Houston (31 points).
- By shooting 14-of-17 from the field and shooting 82.4 percent from the field, Dallas has now gone 13-2 in games where Dirk shoots at least 80 percent from the field (min. 10 field goal attempts). Dallas had lost their previous two games under those circumstances.
- Nowitzki, who had 20 points in the first half against Chicago on Saturday, scored 20-plus points for the seventh time in his last 10 games (16th time this season). Nowitzki is averaging 22.0 points on 57.1 percent shooting over his last 11 games.
Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ heroic win over Chicago. Meet everyone at the altar of Dirk.
On Dirk Nowitzki: “Dirk was able to free up and we were taking it out of the net. He’s made a career of doing that.”
On Dirk Nowitzki: “I know he’s 7-feet tall, but name a guy who shoots better than him … He did his job.”
On if Dirk is playing like championship Dirk in 2011: “Nah. He was a little bit more aggressive on the defensive end then. For the most part, he’s been shooting the hell out of the ball.”
On the team’s ability to come back after the Bulls’ hot shooting in the third quarter: “Dirk was able to ice that fire real quick.”
On Dirk: “He’s a great player. You can’t question what he does for the team and this organization. He doesn’t have almost 25,000 points for no reason … Even though they call him the mummy, he’s a fast mummy. He’s able to get his shot off on anyone.”
On Nate Robinson’s performance: “My teammates looked at me said, ‘Look, stop asking for help on screens. You turn that water hose off.’”
On the final play: “That was just three veterans just moving the ball, making plays. First, I felt Mike was open and Mike thought I was open. When I drove to the lane, I saw Dirk’s man take that step towards me. I just turned and threw it to him. He had a great look without any pressure on him. The rest is history.”
On the upcoming road trip: “These four games are going to be it. It’s going to make or break or season.”
On his shot: “My stuff is a little broke right now. It’s ain’t nothing that you can’t fix.”
On playing without the harness: “If your shot is broke, you at least want to shoot it comfortably. You want to be comfortable shooting a broke shot.”
On the degree of pain he’s in with the shoulder: “It’s really nagging me, man. I really couldn’t tell you any percentage of the pain. It’s an uncomfortable feeling as a player.”
On Dirk: “He’s doing everything in his will to keep us within striking distance. We’ve got to do whatever we’ve got to do to give him some help … Instead of being behind him or in front of him, we’ve got to be beside him going onto this trip and be ready to throw punches and blow with him.
On Dirk: “He’s a cold boy. He’s got ice in his veins.”
On Brandan Wright’s double-double and Dirk’s game: “I’m actually more impressed with Mayo’s game tonight even though he didn’t shoot well. Seriously. Here’s a guy banged up, and I just thought he was totally engaged in the game and did a lot of things even though he didn’t shoot the ball well. If we’re going to get where we want to get in the next nine games, the example that he set out there today is really important. That’s just grit and guts – being totally in and totally committed. I thought Wright played a good game. His stats were good. We had a lot of guys that battled hard. We came back from double-digit deficits three times. This is a special group of guys even though our year has been a rough year. They’re a special group of guys, they’re continuing to battle. We’re going to keep battling and I believe in them. I really do.”
On his team’s run at the end of the game: “We’ve just got to hang in. We’re going to hang in. We knew that they had hit their share of lucky shots during the game. Robinson hit two or three shots that he’s capable of hitting. If you give in at that point and say, ‘Hey, it’s just their night,’ you’re never going to win a big game. But our guys hung in, hung in and kept battling. When you do that, you get a little good fortune; you get a couple missed free throws, you get opportunities to finish the game. The last play offensively was great because we wanted to save our last timeout in case we needed it. The guys came down and ran an action that got the ball moving, and then they found, obviously, the right guy, Dirk, who was able to hit a three. That’s enormous.”
On momentum heading into the four-game road trip: “It’s great because we needed to win today to stay in the picture. We’ll be off tomorrow on Easter. We’ll have a good practice on Monday and then hit the road. Regardless of who the opponents are coming up, it’s just important that we just continue to fight and battle and stick together. That’s the rallying cry.”
On Mayo: “I just thought he showed a lot of courage being out there. Just to stay in it and continue to play with the kind of aggression he did, even though he wasn’t shooting the ball well, that’s what we’ve got to have. The ball’s not going to go in for our guys individually every night that they step out there. If it isn’t, you’ve got to do other things … He stayed into it. I was proud of him. The example he set today is important for all of our guys. He’s totally committed to us.”
On the mindset to finish this out: “We’re trying to win. Unless Mark (Cuban) sells the team to someone else that has a different approach, the mandate is win games. It’s the expectation from our owner. It’s the expectation from our fans, and it’s the expectation from the locker room. That’s how it’s going to be.”
This final stretch: “There’s a lot at stake here on a lot of different levels. We’re going to compete.”
On this being an early game: “The early games usually aren’t my friend, but I felt good today. Got up early, had my pasta, squeezed it down at 9 a.m. and it felt good.”
On the comeback: “It didn’t look good down by 12, but we made it tougher on Nate (Robinson) and made him put the ball on the floor a little more and we collapsed and got some rebounds and we had to speed the game up some. I thought Vince (Carter) was big, got to the foul line there and when you’re down you want to stop the clock. We were able to get some quick scores and that’s what you need when you’re down.”
On his final shot: “It wasn’t great. It almost felt a little flat coming out of my hands. I was just hoping it was going to go in. It rattled a little bit, but it got in.”
Getting off to an 8-for-8 start: “My in-between game has been really good so I’ve been posting some … When you start off making your first couple of shots you’re usually off to a good night.”
On the team’s resiliency: “Every time people write us out or say we’re done, for some reason, we find a way to hang around.”
On the mindset going into the fourth quarter: “The game is 48 minutes. We kept on playing … I just kind of let it all hang out and see what happens.”
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.