Dirk Nowitzki’s Game Winner Lifts Mavericks Over Magic As Orlando Blows Late LeadBasketball, Sports — By Allen Levin on March 30, 2012 at 11:38 pm Tweet
Dirk Nowitzki has a knack for making timely shots with the game on the line.
However, Nowitzki’s notorious shots are different than the majority of his peers because his aren’t really guardable.
With the game knotted at 98 and 5.9 seconds left in regulation, Nowitzki nailed the game-winner on his trademark one-footed, fadeaway jumper, over Hedo Turkoglu’s outstretched hand, to lift the Dallas Mavericks (30-23) over the Orlando Magic, 100-98, Friday night at the Amway Center.
“He’s pretty impossible to guard because he’s seven-feet tall and he shoots the ball so high, so there’s no way you can block his shot,” Magic forward Ryan Anderson said. “You can’t block his shot. The best you can do is get a hand up, so he’s tough to guard.”
Nowitzki led five Dallas players in double figures with 28 points on nine-for-18 shooting, while Jason Terry provided 10 big fourth-quarter points to finish with 17 off the bench.
The Magic (32-20) had a chance to tie the game on the final possession after a Turkoglu missed three-point attempt was grabbed by Anderson, but he missed a wide-open put-back attempt from right under the basket, and the Mavericks walked away with a come-from-behind victory.
“We had a chance to tie it, and I blew it. So ultimately we need to play the whole game. We’ve been talking about that the whole season practically, just playing a whole 48 minutes,” Anderson said. “They made a great run; we didn’t have answers during that time, so we just have to consistently play the entire game.”
Dallas, who was blown out by the Heat Thursday night in Miami, was able to redeem themselves as they split their two-game Sunshine State road swing.
The Mavericks trailed by as many as 15 points in the contest, but used a 7-0 run at the end of the third quarter to get within seven points. The Mavericks continued to chip away in the fourth quarter, before eventually taking their first lead since the first quarter on a Terry And-1 layup with seven minutes left in regulation.
From there, it was a back-and-forth matchup as both teams traded baskets. The Magic took a four-point lead after four straight points from Anderson, however a Delonte West three-pointer, followed by two West free throws gave the Mavericks the advantage again.
Jameer Nelson failed to give the Magic the lead after being fouled, only converting one-of-two free throws, ultimately setting up Nowitzki’s game winner.
“We dodged a couple of bullets obviously. We got lucky, and it could have gone either way down the stretch,” Nowitzki said. “A tie game is a fun situation to be in…It was a big play, but they came back and had a clean look at the three and Anderson had a wide open tip put back, so we dodged a couple of bullets there.”
It was another disappointing game for the Magic, who lost for the sixth consecutive time at home vs. the defending champion Mavericks. Orlando was hoping to get back on track after suffering a 22-point blowout at the hands of the New York Knicks Wednesday night.
And it appeared the Magic would come away with a win after leading for the majority of the game and outplaying the Mavericks in many areas throughout the night.
Orlando won the rebound battle, 47-37, converted 11 shots from beyond the arc compared to Dallas’ seven, held the Mavs to under 50 percent shooting (47.5) and had a lead after three quarters of play. Usually, that translates into victories for the Magic, who came into the contest 24-6 when outrebounding their opponent, 22-5 when converting 10 or more long balls, 30-13 when holding opponents under 50 percent shooting, and 25-3 when leading after the third quarter.
However, none of that mattered Friday night as the Magic continued to be plagued by costly turnovers, committing 16 miscues in the game, with six of them coming in the final period.
“I didn’t see a let up, but you can’t say apart from the turnovers. That’s what will cost you the lead. That’s what cost us the lead tonight. If you’re going to turn it over 12 times, that’s a huge part of the game,” Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy said. “You can’t excuse the turnovers. That’s a huge, huge part of the game.”
It also didn’t help that Nowitzki and Terry combined for 16 fourth-quarter points on 70 percent (seven-of-10) shooting for Dallas, who outscored the Magic 29-20 in the fourth for the comeback win.
West had 15 points and five assists off the bench in just his second game back from injury, while Shawn Marion contributed 15 points and nine rebounds, and Vince Carter chipped in 12 points for the Mavericks.
Nelson led Orlando with 24 points, to go along with seven rebounds and four assists, while Dwight Howard recorded his 42nd double-double of the season, posting 19 points and 15 boards. Anderson notched 21 points and Turkoglu added 12 points, four rebounds and four assists for the Magic.
Another cause for concern for the Magic was poor free-shooting as Orlando finished just 17-for-28 from the charity stripe.
“The problem is this; you shoot 60 percent at the free-throw line, 17-for-28, and you turn the ball over 12 times in the second half and almost all of them go for baskets the other way, and that’s what got them back in the game, that’s where the the problem is,” Van Gundy said.
Van Gundy stressed the importance of his team improving their free throw shooting and ball control.
“We keep doing it and doing it and doing it and doing it, and it’s an area we’re just not getting better in…But the turnovers to me, that and free throw shooting is where the game is, and I have a hard time yelling and screaming about the free throw shooting, but the turnovers, until we get that under control, we have no chance to beat good teams on a consistent basis.”
Orlando will have the day off Saturday before hosting the Denver Nuggets Sunday evening.