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Friday, June 10, 2011
Dirk's getting it done at free throw line

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki's next fourth-quarter free throw will break a tie with Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade for most fourth-quarter free-throw attempts in a postseason since 2003.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Dallas Mavericks forward has attempted 85 free throws in the fourth quarter through 20 playoff games, equaling Wade's total in 23 games in the Heat's run to the 2006 championship. Of course, Mavs fans will never forget NBA ref Bennett Salvatore in helping Wade go to the line 97 times overall against Dallas in the six-game NBA Finals.

Perhaps Miami fans are getting the same sickening feeling this time around. Nowitzki isn't on a 97 free-throw pace, but he has attempted a series-high 44 free throws and has made 43. The bulk of that damage has come in the fourth quarters when he is 25-of-25. Overall in the playoffs, Nowitzki is 80-of-85 (94.1 percent) from the line in the fourth quarter.

Wade and LeBron James, both of whom figured to be fixtures at the free throw line this series simply have not gotten there. Combined they are 11-of-13 in the fourth quarters of this series with Wade going 8-of-10 and James going 3-of-3.

For the entire playoffs, Nowitzki is 173-of-184 from the free throw line for 94.0 percent. Since making 88.9 percent of his foul shots in the first round against Portland, his free throw shooting accuracy has improved with each series: 93.8, 96.7 and now 97.7 against the Heat.

Other odds and ends from the Elias Sports Bureau:

*Jason Terry came off the bench to score 21 points with six assists. He’s the first non-starter to have at least 20 points and five assists in an NBA Finals game since Michael Cooper had 21 and nine for the Lakers in Game 2 of the 1987 Finals.

*The Mavs made 56.5 percent of their field goals (39 of 69), including 68.4 percent of their 3-point attempts (13 of 19). Only two other teams have had a field-goal percentage and a 3-point percentage as high as Dallas’ in an NBA Finals game. In Game 1 in 1985, Boston made 60.8 percent (62 of 102) of their shots and 77.8 percent (7 of 9) on 3s against the Lakers. In Game 2 in 1987, Los Angeles returned the favor, making 61.5 percent (56 of 91) and 75.0 percent (6 of 8). Dallas hadn’t posted such high percentages in each category in any game, in the regular season or postseason, since Feb. 17, 1990 against the Magic (57.6 FG pct., 71.4 3PT pct.)

*The Mavs' J.J. Barea, Jason Kidd and Terry became the first set of teammates to each have 10 points, five assists and three 3-pointers in an NBA Finals game.