Friday, January 25, 2008

Dirk is inspiring in win over Lakers

Dirk Nowitzki has never considered himself a vocal leader. He’s the first to tell anyone so, but Friday night he stepped out of character and decided his voice would be heard above all others.

Challenging his teammates at halftime and throughout the second half, Nowitzki prodded the Mavericks past the Los Angeles Lakers 122-105. His 26 points and 10 rebounds were important. His words were the difference.

“Dirk really gave the team a big-time talk,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. “I was proud of what he said at halftime. The team really responded.”

There was actually some debate in the locker room whether Nowitzki actually delivered a pep talk. Nowitzki, slyly, said: ‘I gave the team a speech. I said, ‘Let’s win this game.’”

The Mavs did just that. When they broke away to start the second half and took 17-point lead into the fourth quarter, cruising to the finish line seemed reasonable. The Mavs, after all, were containing those Lakers not named Kobe Bryant, while their big guns were getting the job done.

It’s never that easy. Not that the Mavs expected it to be. Johnson has pointed out lately that a number of teams are better than seasons past, and Los Angeles’ glamour team would definitely fall in the improved category.

So when the Mavs walked out of a packed American Airlines Center with an intensely-contested victory, their feeling of accomplishment seemed fitting. Dallas never expected a stroll through the park.
”It had a playoff feel,” Devin Harris said. “They made their runs. We made our runs. It was a physical game.”

No comments: