Maverick Spotlight - Dirk Nowitzki (04/11/10)
When Dirk Nowitzki is on a basketball court, we all watch in amazement, wondering what he will do next. His latest two-game explosion is further proof that Nowitzki is one of the greatest to ever touch the hardwood.
Theatrics like Friday night's 40-point, 10-rebound effort against Portland has become somewhat routine for the Dallas fans during their fortunate time watching Nowitzki's assault on the NBA. But an encore performance on the second night of a back-to-back, scoring 39 points in a 126-108 win in Sacramento, has even grabbed the attention of the opposition.
"(The Sacramento crowd) got to watch Dirk Nowitzki show what he can do," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "He showed why he's one of the greatest players ever to play this game. It looked like the basket was like three times the size of a normal basket whenever he shot the ball (Saturday night). We did hold Dirk to 39 -- he had 40 (Friday night).
Examine No. 41's offensive production the last two outings. Nowitzki's 11-of-24 from the floor and 17-for-17 at the foul line in an 83-77 road win against the Trail Blazers on Friday was needed in every way. The rest of the team scored just 43 points on 13 of 47 shots.
"I wanted to play off the dribble a little more -- a little show and go, quick drive, a little more off the dribble. And I was able to attack in that way," Nowitzki said was his plan of attack.
"Dirk's our guy," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We play through him. He's going to make good things happen for us."
Good things continued to happen just 24 hours later, when Nowitzki torched the Kings' defense. Though the 7-footer received more help from his teammates, in a game that was never in doubt, Nowitzki still put the squad on his broad shoulders and carried it to the victory. Stretches like the German's 13 straight points to end the third quarter helped the league's seventh-leading scorer finish with a 12-of-20 shooting night and 2-for-2 from three-point range, also going perfect at the foul line once again while swishing in 13 of 13 strokes at the charity stripe.
"If he's open, there is a good chance he is going to make the shot. He is that kind of a scorer and that kind of big shooter," Carlisle said.
"I was just being aggressive," Nowitzki added. "If I'm open, shoot the ball or put it on the floor and get to the foul line. That always helps."
With two games remaining on the Mavs' regular season schedule, Nowitzki's aggressiveness has come at just the right time. The team's three-game winning streak has opened up a one-game advantage in the Western Conference's tight battle for the No. 2 seed in the playoff race. It's that postseason positioning and an opportunity to contend for a championship that is motivating Nowitzki these days.
"Now we are going to try and get the second seed if we can," Nowitzki concluded. "We'll see what happens in the playoffs."
Note: The Mavericks conclude their three-game road trip against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on Monday night. Dallas can also sweep that season series, after winning the first two games against the Clippers. That game will air locally on KTXA and KTXA HD and nationally on NBA TV at 9:30 p.m. CT.
The team returns to the American Airlines Center for the final regular season game against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS.