DALLAS -- Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks certainly wasn't pleased that Dirk Nowitzki took 24 of his team's 36 free throws, but Brooks wasn't whining about it either. After all, his team got to the line 43 times with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combining for 37 of the Thunder's 43 attempts.
So, Brooks won't be paying a $35,000 fine to the league office as did Portland coach Nate McMillan in the first series and Lakers coach Phil Jackson in the second round. Imagine that, two fines so far for criticism of the officiating and neither involve silent Mavs owner Mark Cuban.
Nowitzki drew 16 fouls and also caused two defensive three-second technical fouls. Serge Ibaka had five fouls on Nowitzki, Thabo Sefolosha had three, Kevin Durant had two in a span of five seconds in the third quarter, Nick Collison and Russell Westbrook also each had two and Kendrick Perkins and James Harden each had one.
Nowitzki made all 13 of his free throws in the third quarter when he was fouled seven times. Six were non-shooting fouls and the Mavs were in the bonus with more than half the quarter to play.
"We just can't foul him as many times. Twenty-four free throws, that's a lot of free throws, but he earned him," Brooks said. "We fouled him. We have to do a better job of guarding him."
Half of Nowitzki's 48 points came at the free throw line. The other half came on 12-of-15 shooting against seven different defenders with the 6-foot-10 Ibaka taking the lion's share of abuse, 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
Nowitzki was 5-of-6 from the floor with 16 points off free throws against the six other defenders that tried to slow down Nowitzki, who notched the sixth 40-point playoff game of his career and the first of this brilliant postseason in which he's now averaging 28.5 points.
All of Nowitzki's buckets came inside the arc. He got the ball on the wing at will, where he loves to operate, and OKC never made adjustments to either try to keep him out of his sweet spot or to take the ball out of his hands. Only seldom did they attempt to double-team.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Nowitzki made 9-of-11 field goals from 12-plus feet, which ties for the most 2-point baskets from that range in a game this postseason and it's the second-highest shooting percentage (53.4) from that distance in this postseason behind Chris Paul (54.7).
"Really throughout the day, yeah, I had a good rhythm against whoever was on me," Nowitzki said. "I had some rip‑throughs, had a spin move from the baseline early to set up ‑‑ went to the basket, got a dunk, and I think that set up the jump shots for the next couple trips down. I thought I had a good mix driving and shooting."