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Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Dirk morphs from horrible to hero

By Tim MacMahon

Don't ever doubt Dirk Nowitzki.

The Mavs' MVP has taught us that lesson many times over the years, snapping out of a shooting funk to dominate down the stretch of a Dallas win. His performance in the final few minutes of regulation in Wednesday's win over the Grizzlies ranks as one of his most impressive performances in that category.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Nowitzki had clanked his way to a 3-of-16 shooting performance. Then he hit five in a row to fuel the Mavs' double-digit rally.

"As a shooter, all you really need is to see one go through," Dirk told reporters in Memphis. "I was just happy that one went through and stuck with it."

Four of those buckets came during a 10-point flurry in the final 3:08, almost singlehandedly forcing overtime in a game Dallas seemed destined to lose. Dirk displayed an array of weapons during that scoring spree, starting it with a strong dropstep after catching the ball on the block, following that with a couple of catch-and-shoot 3s and capping it with one of those wild, contested fadeaways he knocks down at a ridiculously high rate.

Dirk's clutch performance -- 16 of his 28 points came in the final 8:08, including OT -- was awe-inspiring. However, it can't be described as stunning.

After all, that's the same dude who snapped out of a 5-of-14 funk to pour in a franchise-record 29 points in the fourth quarter of a comeback win over the Jazz months ago.

In Dirk's mind, a rough shooting stretch simply means he's due for a groove.