Mavs 100, Bulls 98: Video Inside A Thriller
Foreward: Mavs 100, Bulls 98 ...
The Dallas Mavericks had no business being in Saturday's matinee home game. So many botched possessions. So much good fortune for the Bulls on the other end.
Then Dirk happened.
The Mavs rushed back into this game at its close with a 15-1 run in the final 3:30 to seal an improbable victory that keeps alive their playoff hopes. Dallas is 36-37 and within a whisker of the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers for the West's final playoff berth ... and within a whisker, too, of shaving off those whiskers, something that will happen when the club climbs back to .500.
Dallas finished 11-5 in the month of March, and this capper looked like this (props to Max on the video and to Followill on the call of a classic):
"Greatest individual offensive performance I've ever seen in person,'' tweeted teammate Anthony Morrow, who added the hashtags #DirtyDirk and #Coldblooded.
Mayo's Video Visit ...
Now, why would we bother placing the spotlight on O.J. Mayo? After all, Mayo missed his first 12 field-goal attempts and finished 1-for-13.
First, the Video Visit:
Speaking of Mayo ...
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle had a great deal of praise for his team. But he intentionally re-directed a question so it could be answered in a Mayo-related way.
Rick Carlisle's enthusiasm for the work of his guys is tangible. He cannot contain himself when talking about Mayo, who served as a leader for this club despite a shoulder injury that O.J. prefers no one talks much about.
An MRI before the game revealed a mild sprain of the AC joint in Mayo's left shoulder. He began the game wearing a harness to protect the injured shoulder, but took it off after missing two shots in the first quarter.
"I was proud of him,'' Rick said of Mayo. "The example he set today is important for all of our guys. He's totally committed to us."
By the way: DallasBasketball.com medical expert Jeff Stotts predicted three days ago that Mayo was suffering from an AC sprain and now adds, "This type of injury can be braced. And it's pain, not loss of range of motion, that is the biggest limiting factor.''
Thus, the praise and admiration from the coach.
A play for Dirk ...
Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high 35 points. He did it on 14-of-17 shooting and he did it with a flurry of 15 fourth-quarter points featuring eight clutch points in the final minute.
The UberMan's game-winning came on a set play of sorts -- designed "action'' without pausing for a timeout -- as the Mavs aligned him up for his 3-pointer with less than three seconds remaining.
"It didn't look good down by 12,'' said Dirk, who made 5-for-6 from beyond the arc. "We were able to get some quick scores and that's what you need when you're down."''
Dirk, by the way, didn't just end hot. Nowitzki scored 20 points in the first half without missing a shot, going 8-for-8 from the field with two 3-pointers and 2-for-2 at the foul line.
Who Deserves "The Dirkie''? ...
It's a DB.com tradition and you get to vote for the Player of the Game. Cast your vote for who deserves "The Dirkie'' here!
Brand: 'Coach wouldn't let us quit' ...
Brandan Wright ended up being the center of record as he contributed 17 points and 13 rebounds -- but he did it off the bench.
Elton Brand was given the Mavericks' starting nod for the first time in two weeks. He didn't exactly offer up a lot of numbers; Brand tallied two points, one rebound and one blocked shot in 16:21, playing just 1:05 in the fourth.
But we do like to go to EB for things like big-picture perspective:
The Bulls had a 12-point lead and four minutes to play, but missed their last seven shots from the field. ... The Mavericks used their 22nd different starting lineup. ... With his fourth bucket of the game, Nowitzki passed Gary Payton (8,708) for 19th place in NBA history in field goals made. ... Nate Robinson scored 25 points and hit his first seven 3-pointers, succeeding at such a maddening pace that Carlisle called some of the makes "lucky.'' Deng and Boozer also scored 25 apiece ... The Mavs called up Jared Cunningham from D-League Frisco ...
The Final Word ...
Dallas won four of six games during this homestand, punctuating it with an inspiring victory over a 39-32 contending Bulls team. And have no doubt: Chicago's physical nature is something the Mavs very much had to overcome -- and in doing so, maybe grew away from something the team itself admits is a weakness.
The Mavs will take off Easter Sunday and then prep for work for Tuesday's critical meeting at the Lakers.
Mike James knows that it'll "be a playoff atmosphere'' there, but that the advantages gained can easily be lost if Dallas doesn't string together more wins to end the year.
"This is a special group of guys,'' Carlisle said. "It's been a rough year. But it's a special group of guys.''
The chance to prove that ... continues.
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