It looked over early, so give the Dallas Mavericks credit for making a game of it.
Down by 22 in the first half and by 12 with a little over five minutes left, Dallas fought back to force overtime and even held a lead with 33 seconds left, but an All-Star caliber move from Kevin Love put Minnesota on top for good.
It was a battle of power forwards, with Kevin Love scoring 35 and Dirk going for 27, but Nowitzki's final shot went astray with a few seconds left. Nowitzki finished 11-27 from the field, and looked pretty exhausted after playing 39 minutes in his third game in four nights.
Monta Ellis was the hero in regulation, scoring the team's final 10 points en route to a 22 point night. Ricky Rubio matched Ellis with 22 points of his own, adding a Playstation like line of 15 assists, 10 rebounds and 4 steals.
With Memphis having already won, Dallas and the Grizzlies now are tied in the standings.
Minnesota led 37-24 after one quarter, and scored the first 9 points of the second quarter to go ahead 46-24. After some back and forth, an 8-0 run cut the Wolves lead to 14, and Dallas kept coming. All told, Dallas outscored Minnesota 28-9 over a seven minute stretch.
In the third quarter, the two teams played each other to a standstill, with 28 points apiece, thanks to a Brandan Wright rainbow buzzer beater.
Minnesota would go back up by double-digits for a good portion of the fourth quarter, and a Robbie Hummel three made it a 13 point lead with a little over 6 minutes left. Minnesota wouldn't make another field goal in regulation.
Monta Ellis entered the cheat code for God Mode with about three and a half minutes left, scoring Dallas' final 10 points, including a jumper to tie the game at 110 and then a three to put Dallas ahead.
After Ricky Rubio free throws, Dirk missed a three with 32 seconds left as Dallas tried to go for the two-for-one, but a Minnesota offensive rebound gave the Wolves two chances to win. A wide open Robbie Hummel three barely rolled out, sending the game to extra time.
In OT, it looked like Dallas might run away, as they scored the first five points of the period. Up three, Vince Carter committed his sixth foul on Kevin Love behind the line, sending him to the charity stripe for three tries. That tied it. Love split another pair of free throws, putting Minnesota up one, but Dirk responded with a tough fallaway jumper to put Dallas back ahead.
Kevin Love made the play of the night on the next possession, after looking trapped, he split a double-team with a pump fake, then flipped a shot over Brandan Wright's outstretched hand, making the score 123-122. Dirk Nowitzki got a decent look on a 1-on-1 matchup with Love at the other end, but his shot bounced off the rim and Dallas couldn't get another attempt up before the buzzer.
- Monta finished with 22. Perhaps one could argue for Monta to get a few more looks in OT, but really, do you not want Dirk Nowitzki taking the final shot with the game on the line?
- Not Dirk's best shooting night, primarily because Nowitzki was 0-7 from three. Take those out and he shoots 11-20. There were a few shots that simply looked short because Dirk is 58 years old and was playing heavy minutes in his third game in four nights. We can all hope Dirk gets some chances to rest down the stretch, but looking at the standings and their remaining schedule, that is probably unrealistic.
- DeJuan Blair logged 1 minute tonight, as Wright and Dalembert got extended burn against the Pekovic-less Wolves. Wright made all three of his field goals but was a shocking -18 in 21 minutes.
- Speaking of surprising +/- totals, Jae Crowder was +14 in 15 minutes, scoring 4 points on a pair of dunks(yes, dunks!) and dishing out three assists.
- Good Shawn Marion showed up, with 16 points on 8-12 shooting, along with 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Marion had the tough draw of guarding Kevin Love for extended stretches, as well.