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List of Articles by Homer D. Sayson


 

Big Dirk shines; ties the NBA Finals at 2-2

By Homer D. Sayson
PhilBoxing.com
09 Jun 2011



USING Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals as a canvas, Dirk Nowitzki painted another playoffs masterpiece Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The Big German drilled 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Dallas Mavericks rallied from a 9-point deficit to stun the Miami Heat, 86-83, and even the best-of-7 championship series at two games apiece.

It was one of the gutsiest NBA Finals performances in recent memory. And whatever morsel of doubt is left out there regarding his toughness, Nowitzki extinguished it all for good.

Suffering from the effects of a sinus infection, a sleep-deprived Nowitzki woke up Tuesday morning with a fever that rose to 101. He soldiered on and drained his first three shots, but the illness quickly took its toll as Nowitzki missed 10 of his next 11 field goals. He even flubbed a free throw, a rare occurence that snapped a string of 39 consecutive makes.

"Just battle it out. This is the Finals. You have to go out there and compete and try your best for your team. So that's what I did," Nowitzki said during the post-game press conference.

With Dwyane Wade remaining unstoppable and having another monster night with 32 points, Miami took control of Game 4 and was poised to take another huge road win when they went up 75-64 with only 10:11 left to play.

That's when Big Dirk donned Superman's cape and turned Dallas' floundering fourtunes around.

FUELED by his four free throws and a lay-up, Dallas regained the lead at 79-78, time down to 5:12. Both teams went toe-to-toe from there, neither one refusing to give an inch. But when Wade split his free throws in the final 14.4 seconds, it allowed Dallas to keep a slim 82-81 margin, setting the stage for Nowitzki to seal the deal.

Following a timeout, the Mavericks went to their meal ticket. And just like what big-time superstars do, in the crucible of the Finals, Dirk Nowtizki took Dallas home.

With Udonis Haslem covering him like glue, Nowitzki faked to his left, his favorite path. But the 9-time All-Star rerouted and went to his right instead. Puff, just like that, Haslem was a step behind. Wade gallantly tried to come and help, flying and flailing for a blockshot.

It was too late. By then, the 7-foot Nowtizki had kissed the ball gently off the glass, before swishing beutifully through the net.

After a Wade basket and two free throws by Jason Terry, Miami heaved a potential game-tying Hail Mary as time expired, but Mike Miller's desperation 3 sailed harmlessly away from the hoop.

As the final horn buzzed, a weary Nowitzki raised both arms in triumph, obviously relieved that his team had just escaped what might have been an impossible-to-overcome 3-1 deficit

IN A CAREER highlighted by his marksmanship, Game 4 certainly wasn't one of Dirk's best as he shot just 6 of 19. But overall, it was a performance for the ages as he overcame fatigue, illness, and the Miami Heat defense.

Nowitzki finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, including six in the final 12 minutes.

The Mavericks hit just 29 of 73 field goals and 4 of 19 3s, but made up for their poor shooting with bulk scoring from both starters and reserves. Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler combined for 29 while Terry and Deshawn Stevenson pumped 28 off the bench.

For Miami, it was Wade's 32 points, Chris Bosh's 24 and little else.

LeBron James, aka The King, was prominently missing in action. He finished with a mere 8 points and seemed politely disinterested to participate in his team's offense. He shot just one field goal in the fourth quarter, an ugly miss, and each time he got the ball, he quickly passed it over as if it was stolen.

Game 5 of these Finals returns to the American Airlines Center in Dallas Thursday night with Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) heading back to Miami Sunday and Tuesday nights respectively. (Homer D. Sayson)


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