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John Schuhmann

Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki has scored more fourth-quarter points in The Finals than D-Wade and LeBron combined.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Taking the fourth: Nobody's doing it like Dirk is doing it

Posted Jun 8 2011 11:50AM

DALLAS -- The scores may be low, but the 2011 NBA Finals couldn't be any more thrilling. Game 4 on Tuesday was the third straight game that came down to the final shot, thanks to a Dallas comeback in the fourth quarter. Now, we have a 2-2 series with a crucial Game 5 on Thursday night.

In each of the last three games, the Mavs have come back from at least seven points down in the fourth quarter. And in each of their last four wins (including Games 4 and 5 vs. Oklahoma City), they've come back from at least eight points down in the fourth.

Mr. Fourth Quarter

Dirk Nowitzki ranked fourth in fourth-quarter scoring in the regular season (7.1 points per game), behind Amar'e Stoudemire, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant. But he's No. 1 in the postseason (10.0 per game) and has been off the charts in The Finals.

Nowitzki's 44 fourth-quarter points in this series are more than Wade (30) and LeBron James (nine) have scored combined. Nowitzki is shooting 12-for-24 from the field, 2-for-4 from 3-point range and 18-for-18 from the free throw line in his 48 fourth-quarter minutes. No other player has attempted more than eight fourth-quarter free throws in the series.

Highest-scoring fourth quarters
In the 2011 NBA Finals
Player Game Min FGM FGA 3PM 3PA FTM FTA Pts
Dirk Nowitzki 3 12 4 7 1 2 6 6 15
Dirk Nowitzki 1 12 2 4 0 0 6 6 10
Dirk Nowitzki 4 12 2 6 0 1 6 6 10
Dirk Nowitzki 2 12 4 7 1 1 0 0 9
Dwyane Wade 2 12 2 5 1 4 4 4 9
Jason Terry 2 12 3 5 0 0 2 2 8
Jason Terry 4 12 3 7 0 2 2 2 8

In fact, no player in the series has had a bigger fourth quarter than Nowitzki has had in any of the four games.

Nowitzki is now 7-for-11 from the field in "clutch" time in these Finals. He's the only Mavs player who has hit a shot from the field in clutch time, and has almost as many clutch points (22) as everyone else in the series combined (23).

Clutch time scoring/shooting
In the 2011 NBA Finals
Dirk Nowitzki 7 11 1 2 7 7 22
Dwyane Wade 4 7 1 4 1 2 10
Chris Bosh 1 3 0 0 4 4 6
Mario Chalmers 1 1 1 1 0 0 3
Jason Terry 0 4 0 2 2 2 2
Tyson Chandler 0 1 0 0 1 2 1
Shawn Marion 0 0 0 0 1 1 1
LeBron James 0 5 0 4 0 0 0
Mike Miller 0 3 0 2 0 0 0
Udonis Haslem 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
D. Stevenson 0 2 0 2 0 0 0
Clutch time = Last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, with a point differential of five points or less
Big D

Of course, if a team is winning close games with only one player making shots, some defense is being played. That end of the floor has been just as important for the Mavs.

In their two wins, the Mavs have held the Heat to just 32 total points on 43 possessions in the fourth quarter. For the series overall, Miami is scoring 108 points per 100 possessions in the first three quarters and 96 per 100 in the fourth.

In Game 4, it was not only bad shooting (5-for-15), but also turnovers (six) that hurt the Heat in the fourth quarter.

LeBron's disappearing act

As seen in the table above, LeBron James is 0-for-5 in clutch time in The Finals, with four of the five shots coming from 3-point range. In the previous two series (vs. Boston and Chicago), James was 13-for-22 from the field and 5-for-8 from 3-point range in clutch time.

James was relatively non-existent offensively throughout Game 4, scoring just eight points on 3-for-11 shooting. It was the first time in 434 games that he's scored in single digits.

Interestingly, before Tuesday, the Heat were 14-1 (including 4-0 in the postseason) when James took fewer than 15 shots. But he averaged 9.4 free-throw attempts in those 15 games. He attempted just four free throws and just four shots from within five feet of the basket in Game 4. James was 2-for-4 from within five feet on Tuesday, and 1-for-7 from five feet and beyond.

Lineup change

Rick Carlisle went to a new starting lineup in Game 4. The unit of Jason Kidd, J.J. Barea, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler hadn't started a game all season, and had played just 43 minutes before Tuesday. It was the team's 27th most-used lineup, and had been outscored 85-73 in those 43 minutes.

But that unit had played together in each of the first three games of the series and had outscored the Heat 15-4 in six minutes in the third period of Game 3. In Game 4, the Mavs' new starting unit was even (8-8) in 5:43 in the first quarter, and outscored the Heat 14-13 in 6:11 in the third.

Even though he didn't start, DeShawn Stevenson played his more minutes (25:38) than he had in all but one other game, and had his highest scoring total (11 points) of the postseason. The lineup of Kidd, Jason Terry, Stevenson, Nowitzki and Chandler was a plus-12 in 13 minutes together, despite shooting just 6-for-22. That lineup oustscored the Heat 19-7, holding Miami to 2-for-12 shooting.

Three Trends

• The Mavs are now 10-1 in the postseason and 52-15 overall when Terry shoots at least 40 percent. He was 6-for-15 (exactly 40 percent) in Game 4.

• Mario Chalmers is 7-for-13 from 3-point range in the Heat's two wins in the series, and 1-for-9 in their two losses.

• The Heat's two 3-pointers in Game 4 were tied for the fewest they've hit all season. They made three or fewer 12 times in the regular season, and have already done it six times in the postseason. Overall, they're 10-8 when they connect on three or fewer threes.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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