Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dirk's late 3 clinches playoff spot

Is there a more fitting way to clinch a spot in the playoffs?

Dirk Nowitzki drilled a hurry-up 3-pointer with less than a second left to lift the Mavericks past Utah and back into the postseason for the eighth consecutive season. The 97-94 victory Thursday night at American Airlines Center coupled with Denver beating Golden State dropped the magic number to zero.

The latest playoff trip took a good deal more sweat than years past and the 48-minute slugfest with Utah was appropriate in a season where nothing has come easy. Nowitzki scored 32 and Jason Terry added 21, all in the second half, as the Mavs (50-29) also joined San Antonio as the only two teams to win at least 50 games in each of the last eight years.

Momentum and the lead swung from side-to-side in the fourth quarter as both clubs showed why the Western Conference playoffs promise to be an all-out war of attrition. Neither side gave an inch in taking the game right down to the final horn.

The dramatics were especially pronounced in the final 10 seconds. Utah point guard Deron Williams banked a desperation 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds left to knot the score at 94-all. Eddie Jones pushed the ball up the floor without any timeouts and forced the Jazz defense to commit before rifling the ball to Nowitzki on the left wing.

The reigning MVP let one fly and the ball dropped through the net with 0.9 showing on the clock. He celebrated with the now-patented pull-the-jersey-down move as the sellout crowd of 20,378 exploded. The party continued after Williams missed another desperate heave at the buzzer.

The effort had to go in the “complete game” file. The evening had all the elements – a fast start, stout defense, balance, a solid bench, hustle plays across the board and a strong finish. The Jazz (52-27) were also coming in on a high, having held San Antonio and New Orleans – the previous two opponents – to an average of 65 points.

The Mavs are working on an impressive string when facing playoff contenders, having gone 3-1 against some of the best in the West over the last eight days.


Anonymous said...

Congratulation on the win you should thank the referee for the win there was alot of no call the Jazz should have won that game hand down

anne said...

Bitter much, anonymous?