Nowitzki overruled the play call as soon as he saw Artest was defending him. Then Dirk went to work on the block.
"I saw Artest was on me and I just pushed [Jason Terry] out and said let me take care of this matchup on the low post,” Nowitzki said. “I felt like I could shoot over him.”
He was right. The 7-footer hit a couple of turnaround jumpers over the 6-foot-7, 260-pound Artest. He knocked down a couple of free throws when Artest was whistled for a foul after trying to wrestle Nowitzki off the block. When the Lakers helped Artest with a double-team, Nowitzki spotted Shawn Marion slashing to the hoop and hit him for an and-1 layup.
Just like that, Nowitzki accounted for nine points on four possessions, all post-ups. That gave the Mavs the lead for good.
It also crushed any belief that Artest, a former Defensive Player of the Year, could man up against the Mavericks’ MVP. That’s a mismatch the Mavs will attack if Artest takes another turn on Dirk.