(4) 3-pointer beats Chicago in playoff push (2013)
Even if this game ultimately changed little about the final outcome of the Mavericks' regular season, it is indelibly etched in our minds, for several reasons.
First, in a season where Dirk looked very human early on after returning from a knee injury that sidelined him up until Christmas, this was the game that reminded us all that he could still be truly great.
Second, Dirk's beard! The beard that either made you think 10th century Viking or homeless guy pushing around a shopping cart. It also represented how much pride the team had. After being 10 games under .500 in early January, several players had pledged to not shave until they got back to .500. Which they would do, two weeks later, prompting Dirk to reach for the razor literally right as he got back to the locker room.
Third, and finally, the terrific call by Mark Followill, citing a recent Zach Lowe article that called Dallas "the team that wouldn't die." Desperately needing to win, Dallas pulled out the victory despite being down late, and climbed to within one game of the Lakers and Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot. It would have been almost unthinkable a few months earlier.
Dirk finished the game with 35 points, and Dallas needed every last one.
- Alan Smithee (@SmitheeMMB)
(12) Pull-up jumper buries Phoenix (2006)
We know Shawn Marion is a great defender, but he makes the mistake here of giving Dirk just a little too much space. That's all he needs, and bang, Dirk is already starting to pad his resume that will eventually earn him an MVP award in this 2006-07 season.
It was the JET show for much of this game, as he had 35 points, and more importantly, a huge 3-pointer that tied the game and set the table for Dirk's heroics. Here's a fun fact from the Elias Sports Bureau: "Dirk Nowitzki's 19-footer with 1.3 seconds to play gave the Mavericks a 101-99 win over the Suns. Nowitzki has made his last three potential game-tying or go-ahead field-goal attempts in the last five seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime after missing the first 13 such shots of his NBA career."
Whatever issues Dirk had earlier in his career, there was no hesitation and no doubt about the result on this clutch jump shot.
- Tim Cato (@tim_cato)