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Dirk can't disappear in 4th quarter again

4/25/2011

DALLAS -- Brandon Roy’s dominance overshadowed Dirk Nowitzki’s disappearance in Game 4’s fourth quarter.

As miserable as the Mavs played defensively in the final dozen minutes, they would have survived if their offense wasn’t just as awful. But the Mavs’ offense is going to be bad when Nowitzki is just a bit player.

Nowitzki scored only four points in the fourth quarter -- and none after hitting a pair of free throws with 5:21 remaining. Nowitzki’s final field goal attempt was a seven-footer blocked by Nicolas Batum with 6:45 to play. Nowitzki tried to go to the hole with a little more than two minutes to go, but Gerald Wallace drew a charge.

Nowitzki is typically a fourth-quarter force, ranking among the league’s leading scorers in the final frame on an annual basis. He averaged an off-the-charts 13.7 points in the fourth quarters of this series’ first three games before producing only four while the Trail Blazers erased an 18-point deficit Saturday.

“He’s got to be a guy that touches it a lot,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He did touch it a fair amount. He didn’t necessarily shoot it as much as he touched it, but we’ve got to keep the ball going through him as much as possible.

“When he’s double-teamed, he’s going to have to kick it out and other guys are going to have to make plays. We’ve got to read situations, but we’ve got to be very aggressive.”

The Mavs were the opposite of aggressive in the fourth quarter of Game 4. They had no points in the paint and had more turnovers (four) than shots attempted inside 10 feet (three). Almost half of their shots attempted in the final frame were from 3-point range (1-of-8).

Point guard Jason Kidd, the man ultimately responsible for making sure the ball gets where it’s supposed to go, said Portland didn’t make any adjustments that really stood out. He said their switching caused some issues, as did their pressure on the ball up the floor, which caused the Mavs to work against the shot clock.

However, there’s no excuse for Dirk to ever be a nonfactor in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got to get him the ball and play through him,” Kidd said.