The Mavericks had a host of memorable moments last season. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll rewind the tape and take a look back at five of our favorite games from the 2013-14 campaign. Comments? Suggestions? Drop us a line below.
Smack in the middle of the team’s franchise-best eight-game homestand, the Mavs had just suffered two overtime losses in three games. The panic meter wasn’t quite ramped up to 10, but with a date against the Oklahoma City Thunder just two days after a defeat in extra time at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets, Dallas — tied with Phoenix for eighth place in the West — desperately needed a win.
Oklahoma City wouldn’t make that easy, of course. The Mavs had just blown the Thunder away by 23 points in Oklahoma City the previous week, and Russell Westbrook was going to make his return to the floor after an injury kept him out for a lengthy period of time. Dirk Nowitzki, meanwhile, was hoping to bounce back from a rough outing against the Nets two days prior, when he shot 2-of-12 from the floor and scored just 10 points in 38 tough minutes. If the Mavs were to beat OKC, they’d need the best Dirk could offer.
And, boy, how he brought it. Nowitzki was brilliant against the Thunder, scoring 32 points on 11-of-23 shooting, also adding 10 rebounds, six assists, and four steals. It was the type of performance that reminded us all why “Vintage Nowitzki” does not exactly exist: Nights when Nowitzki struggles are much farther and fewer between than the ones on which he puts on shows like he did against OKC. He’s excellent year-round.
Nowitzki Triumphs Over Thunder In Overtime
Thunder vs. Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki scores 32 points and grabs 11 rebounds with Jose Calderon adding 22 points with 6 triples as the Mavericks top the Thunder in overtime 128-119.
Jose Calderon supported Nowitzki as efficiently as only Calderon is capable of playing. The Spaniard was 7-of-10 from the field, including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. His biggest shot of the evening — and perhaps his biggest of the season — came with 26 ticks left on the clock in regulation. Sure, it would mean yet another overtime game for an aging squad with not much time to rest in between contests, but it also gave the Mavs the momentum they needed to carry out the victory.
“We knew this team was good and they’re going to keep making plays,” Nowitzki said after the game. “They always keep coming, so it was just a fun game to be a part of. Both teams were competing at the highest level and it was definitely a fun game.”
The game was packed full of exciting moments (what else is new when it comes to this incredible rivalry?) including a Kevin Durant three-pointer to give the Thunder a three-point lead Calderon would erase less than 15 seconds later. Not to be outdone, a Nowitzki three-pointer in overtime that put the game away might have been the most climactic moment of the evening. With just 57 seconds left in the extra period, Dirk drilled a bomb that extended the Dallas lead to 123-115, and the AAC exploded with noise. That specific play, however, wasn’t solely a Dirk Nowitzki production. As it happened several times throughout the entire season, Monta Ellis had a lot to do with the play.
Still, it was Nowitzki’s bounce-back performance — again, not a “vintage” showing, but one of the usual excellence we’ve come to wonder at for years — that carried the team all evening.
“He’s a prideful guy,” Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said of the German after the win. “I just think that great players are great for a reason. They never let anything keep them down for long. He’s bounced back from every adversity he’s ever had in his career. He was huge.”
The Mavs would lose their next game, a close defeat against the LA Clippers, but Dallas would win five of its next six on the other side to clinch a playoff spot. There’s no guarantee the Mavs would have made the playoffs had they lost this game. But Dirk, Calderon, Ellis, Carlisle, and the rest of the team made sure that didn’t happen. Instead, Dallas walked away with one of its best wins of the season.
Postgame: Dirk Nowitzki
Mavs F Dirk Nowitzki weighs in on Tuesday's win over Oklahoma City, having his shooting coach Holger Geschwindner back in town and more.