(6) Layup and a Kevin Garnett foul (2012)
You can figure out in your own time where Dirk and Kevin Garnett fall in the all-time rankings of power forwards, but they're probably both top five. As both near the end of their respective careers, it's impossible to not marvel at what they've accomplished.
But in the moment of this game winning shot, it's pretty clear which first-ballot Hall of Famer gets all of the attention. The entire sequence is fantastic because Garnett is fouling Dirk as soon as he catches it. He has his hands all over him, and Dirk slides right by him to drive at the basket and finish with a ridiculous layup, absorbing so much contact that the referee can't swallow his whistle any longer.
For much of his career, we've complained that Dirk should get more calls on the perimeter, and this is a classic example. But with the game on the line and the seconds ticking down, Dirk wasn't going to worry about that. He takes it right at Kevin Garnett, and while it may not be the best, this is one of my very favorite shots in this entire tournament.
- Tim Cato (@tim_cato)
(11) Jumper over Carmelo gets the awkward bounce (2014)
This was a quintessential Mavericks game from the 2013-14 season. It was high scoring, there was nary any defense to be found, and Dallas blew a big, early lead. What more could you ask for? Well, plenty as our countless posts on this site pining for consistent effort and play can attest.
Getting back to the game, though, it was one which the Mavericks had no business winning. After a roaring start by Dallas, the Knicks came back and took the lead. From then on, it was a back and forth affair. Neither team was able to gain and hold a lead for long. Oh, and Carmelo Anthony went off for 44 points that night. Fourty-four!
Dallas had an eight point lead with 90 seconds left in the game but in typical Mavs fashion, they blew it. (Seriously, how many times did they do that?) With 10.6 seconds left and the game tied at 108, Vince Carter inbounded the ball to Jose Calderon. Calderon then found Dirk Nowitzki at the top of the key guarded by Anthony. Melo isn't usually associated with defense but he is a good defender when playing the power forward position. In fact, his effort is almost tenacious. He guarded Dirk close, denying any fakes. Nonetheless, Nowitzki rose with 1.8 seconds left and shot.
Dirk described the shot as "probably the ugliest game-winner I ever shot...Basically it hit the board, every part of the rim, hit Jerry West over there (the logo on the backboard), came back over and it was definitely an ugly, ugly shot." Ugly or not, it was certainly suspenseful and it went in. That's what matters. And the fact that it happened in Madison Square Garden, the Mecca, makes it all the more memorable.
- Doyle Rader (@TheKobeBeef)