On the Mavs’ first possession last night in Salt Lake City, Dirk Nowitzki got the ball of the left block. He faked. He faded. He swished.
Soon it was goodbye John Havlicek. So long shooting slump. And hello to a big win over the Jazz that kept Dallas clinging to its playoff spot.
Nowitzki was admittedly bad in the two previous games against Indiana and Golden State, going a combined 7 of 25. But against Utah he was vintage Dirk. The Flamingo Fadeway was unstoppable and his rained 4-of-4 from 3-point land. In the end he produced 31 points and missed only two of his 14 shots, becoming only the ninth player to score at least 31 on 14 or fewer shots.
From the first play, it was clear Dirk was determined to dominate in a game the Mavs had to win.
“I just wanted to set the tone early,” Nowitzki told reporters after the game. “I just wanted to be as aggressive as I could and make things happen.”
Dirk scored Dallas’ first seven points and in the second quarter passed Havlicek for 12th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. If he averages 15 points in the Mavs’ final 16 games he’ll pass Dominique Wilkins for 11th place.
And he continues to play like last night in Utah, he’ll elevate the Mavs to 7th place.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.