Mavs know Dirk is the primary reason they won an NBA title
And since he and his Dallas Mavericks had mentally framed Game 6 as their Game 7, with a championship on the line not across 72 hours but right now, right then, Nowitzki could not have picked a worse time to suffer through a horrible, potentially crushing half of basketball.
OK, OK, Dallas actually was in front at that point, 53-51. So it wasn't a worst-case scenario, just a bad-case scenario. Especially if Nowitzki's just-off-the-mark shots kept missing, if the Miami Heat found their rhythm or (yikes) both.
His pal, Steve Nash, had Tweeted in the afternoon that he sensed a "monster" game from Nowitzki, and he wasn't far off. His many misfires were scaring small children.
"It was weird," Nowitzki said. "I had so many good looks. I can't even explain it. I had some threes, top of the key. I had a wide-open three in the corner. I had some pull-ups. I had some one-leg fadeaways that I normally make.
"The team always told me, 'Stay with it. Stay with it. You're too good of a shooter, too good of a player to keep missing.' "
Nowitzki isn't LeBron James, a player versatile enough or self-conscious enough -- you be the judge -- to turn away from his duties as a scorer. He did what shooters do and kept shooting.
He drained a 17-footer 12 seconds after halftime. He hit a pull-up bank shot on the break minutes later. He splashed a 3-pointer that made it 71-65 with 5:08 left in the third.
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